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KAI-Airbus sign initial production contract for helicopters

KAI and Airbus Helicopters view prospective sales of the LAH to countries in Africa and the Middle East. (Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd )

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has signed a pre-emptive integrated procurement contract with Airbus Helicopters for the production of its Light Armed Helicopter (LAH) and the KUH-1 Surion.

The contract, which was signed on 30 August, covers the production of 300 helicopters in total over a period of 10 years, according to KAI. The company added that it covers not only the mass production of the LAH but also derivatives and exports of the KUH-1.

According to KAI, the pre-emptive integrated procurement contract intends to “overcome the unstable global supply chain through co-operation between the two companies”. This will “enhance competitiveness in the global market based on securing mutually stable volumes”, KAI added.

The LAH is a five ton-class twin-engine helicopter that is based on the Airbus H155 (formerly known as the EC155 B1). The development of the helicopter began in 2012. In 2015 Airbus Helicopters and KAI signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which led to the “transfer of the company's technical know-how” to improve development of the helicopter, according to Airbus Helicopters.

The Surion is a twin-engine, multirole helicopter that first entered South Korean military service in 2012. According to Janes data, Airbus Helicopters provided transmission and autopilot subsystems, development test vehicle (DTV), main rotor components, and general technical assistance to the Surion project.

The contract is also expected to strengthen KAI's competitiveness in future domestic and overseas markets. According to KAI, it is working to establish “a flexible response system that meets customer needs by stabilising unit prices and delivery times”. Both companies plan to expand their strategic partnership in future programmes following this contract.

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