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Air Platforms

KAI’s Light Armed Helicopter conducts first flight

04 July 2019
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KAI has carried out the first flight of its LAH prototype at its facility in Sacheon, the company announced on 4 July. Source: KAI

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has carried out the first flight of its Light Armed Helicopter (LAH) prototype.

The South Korean company announced in a 4 July statement that two pilots conducted a 20-minute-long test flight with the rotorcraft, which is being developed for the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA), at the company's facility in Sacheon.

The test follows a flight readiness review held in June and ground-based engine trials that began in April. The helicopter is powered by two Arriel 2L2 turboshaft engines co-developed and built by Safran Helicopter Engines and Hanwha Techwin, the latter of which is expected to licence-build units in its Changwon plant in South Korea. Hanwha Techwin will also be responsible for the maintenance, repair, and overhaul of the engines.

The 2L2 is the most powerful Arriel variant thus far with a take-off power rating of 1,024 shp, according to Safran.

As Jane's previously reported, the LAH has been developed around the Airbus Helicopters H155 (formerly the EC155 B1) twin-engined platform. A main feature of the LAH is the turreted 20 mm Gatling-type gun under its nose.

The rotorcraft also features stub wings provisioned to carry rocket pods, as well as a nose-mounted electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor, fuselage- and tail-mounted missile warning receivers, and upwards-directed exhausts for a reduced IR signature.

The RoKA has a requirement for more than 200 LAH helicopters, with entry into service scheduled for 2022-23.

Speaking at the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (ADEX) in 2015, Airbus Helicopters officials said the company expects to sell 300-400 LAH platforms to international customers. The company had previously told Jane's it would move its H155 assembly line from Marignane in France to South Korea in 2020, with production set to run through to 2050.

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