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KAI LAH successfully tested for Arctic operations

A KAI Light Armed Helicopter (LAH) conducting cold weather flight tests at Yellowknife, northern Canada, between December 2021 and February 2022. (DAPA)

South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced on 18 February that the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) Light Armed Helicopter (LAH) has completed flight tests in cold weather conditions in Canada.

The agency said that the trials were conducted at Yellowknife, Canada – where temperatures reach an average of -32ºC during winter – by personnel from DAPA, KAI, and South Korea's Agency for Defense Development (ADD) and lasted about nine weeks between early December 2021 and February 2022.

The agency said that the helicopter, prototype 002, was flown about 40 times to test 165 items, including the engine, and verify that the helicopter is able to withstand cold weather conditions without affecting its manoeuvrability and performance.

A KAI KUH-1 Surion utility helicopter also conducted flight tests in cold weather in Alaska in 2013, the agency added.

The agency expects the development of the LAH to be completed in 2022, once follow-on tests and evaluation activities are finalised. DAPA said that development activities will continue with manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) capability tests with the LAH, as part of the first stage of trials. As previously stated by DAPA, under the second stage of trials, KAI would equip the helicopter with a canister-launched unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Development of the LAH started in June 2015 with the first prototype unveiled in December 2018. The aircraft was flown for the first time in July 2019 and was provisionally declared “fit for combat” by DAPA in December 2020.

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