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South Korea to improve operational capabilities of UH-60s

South Korea has announced a programme to upgrade various survival, navigation, and communication equipment of UH-60s in the army and air force. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

Sikorsky H-60 helicopters in the service of the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) and Army (RoKA) will be upgraded to increase operational capabilities.

In an announcement on 27 April, the South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced the draft of a performance improvement programme for UH-60P Black Hawks and HH-60P Pave Hawk special operations helicopters.

The performance of the helicopters will be improved through domestic research and development (R&D). The programme is valued at KRW960 billion (USD748.8 million) and will be implemented from 2023 to 2030.

DAPA added that the project will “secure independent air penetrating operational capabilities, as well as continuously foster the aviation industry using domestic helicopter R&D infrastructure and create stable jobs”.

Speaking to Janes, the agency added that the aircraft will feature upgrades to their avionics. “Various survival, navigation, and communication equipment will be reinforced to improve survivability and mission performance,” DAPA said.

However, the agency declined to provide details, citing the sensitive nature of the project.

DAPA added that the participation of local industry has not yet been planned in detail. “Currently, confirmation [of local aviation companies in the project] is limited… The programme needs to be progressed further for details,” the agency said.

The number of helicopters to be upgraded has not been confirmed. According to Janes data, the RoKAF operates 25 HH-60P Pave Hawks and 10 S-70A-22s. The RoKA operates four HH-60Ps modified to perform combat search-and-rescue (CSAR) missions. The RoKA also operates 103 UH-60Ps.

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