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South Korean military grounds KUH-1-series helicopters following crash landing

South Korea's military has temporarily grounded its KUH-1-series helicopters after five Republic of Korea Army (RoKA) personnel were injured when their KUH-1M helicopter – configured for medical evacuation (medevac) operations – crash-landed at a military base near Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province, on 12 July.

The RoKA said in a statement that flight operations of all Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) KUH-1 helicopters and related variants, including the MUH-1 Marineon operated by the RoK Marine Corps (RoKMC), have been suspended across all military services. Medevac operations are set to be conducted using Lockheed Martin UH-60P Black Hawk helicopters while the RoKA investigates the cause of the crash.

The incident took place at 10.35 h (local time) when the KUH-1M was on its way to pick up a patient at a RoKA air battalion base near the city of Pocheon, 46 km north of Seoul, according to the Yonhap News Agency.

The KUH-1M is a variant of the baseline KUH-1 Surion developed specifically for emergency medical transport. According to Janes World Armies , the KUH-1M can carry six patients on litters and is equipped with a hoist, additional communication systems, a removable auxiliary fuel tank for extended range, and a medical suite that includes monitors, a defibrillator, and a respirator.

The variant was introduced by KAI in January 2016 and Janes understands that the RoKA has a requirement for about 24 KUH-1Ms. A contract for a first batch of eight helicopters was signed in December 2018, with these first helicopters delivered to the RoKA by early November 2020, according to South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).

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