KAI, Eurocopter propose naval variant of Surion

Seoul
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Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and Eurocopter have proposed a Korea Naval Helicopter (KNH) based on the co-developed Surion.

The proposed naval variant would be equipped to serve aboard warships with a displacement of 2,500t or more, said KAI at the Seoul air show. It would perform roles such as anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and maritime surveillance.

The KNH would be developed by KAI, Eurocopter and Israel's Elbit Systems, with this contingent on receiving orders from the Republic of Korea Navy, said KAI.

The navy's interest in the KNH is unclear. Seoul's Defense Acquisition and Procurement Administration is expected to issue requests for proposals early next year for eight shipborne helicopters, but KAI said the proposed KNH will not be put forward for this requirement.

surion test flight at kai sacheon - credit: greg waldron

 © Greg Waldron/Flightglobal

At the show, Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky pitched the MH-60R and AgustaWestland the AW159 Lynx Wildcat as a replacement for Seoul's Lynx 99 shipborne helicopters. AgustaWestland said that altogether Seoul could require up to 40 maritime helicopters in the 6t class.

At 8.7t, the Surion is considerably larger than this. What is more, Seoul's warships are optimised for handling the Lynx. AgustaWestland said its AW159 could land on a ship without any modifications being made to the vessel.

As for export markets, KAI said the KNH could be pitched to India, which will need to replace its Westland Sea Kings, as well as southeast Asian countries.

"KNH is versatile, flexible and can be re-configured very rapidly for new roles while embarked," said Eurocopter.

"Its state-of-the-art avionics are future-proofed to permit the aircraft to adapt to new roles, tasks or threats.

"The standard equipment fit and spacious cabin that easily carries full boarding teams make it an ideal aircraft that meets the needs of maritime security worldwide."