In a series of promotional videos at the Seoul ADEX show, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has shown range of innovative aircraft ideas. 

Notable concepts include an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) version of its FA-50 light attack jet accompanying a KF-21 fighter, and several innovative unmanned air vehciles (UAVs). 

KAI conceptual heicopters

Source: Korea Aerospace Industries

KAI Next Generation Helicopter concept

One video highlights the NI-500T, a tiltrotor that takes off and lands vertically. The system has four rotors, with two mounted on the engines and two on the tail. The engines swivel for take-off and landing, similar to the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey. The tail-mounted rotors are fixed facing upwards, and are motionless during flight.

All four rotors have independent electric power, but the main engine in the fuselage uses ordinary fuel to power a battery.

Equipped with an electro-optical/infrared sensor, the NI-500T is shown locating and designating targets, which are then called in to a ground station using a datalink. A KAI Light Attack Helicopter (LAH) – a local variant of the Airbus Helicopters H155 – is then able to destroy the target with a beyond line of sight engagement using a missile.

The video also shows conceptual unmanned LAHs, unmanned FA-50s, as well as the K-UCAV, a small flying wing design, which attacks ground targets with missiles launched from internal weapons bays.

Source: KAI

KAI Aircraft concepts at ADEX 2021

Another KAI video shows an innovative proposal for a new battery-powered basic trainer to replace the KT-1. The Black Kite will be powered by four electric propellers, with two mounted on each wing. The aircraft’s cockpit will be compatible with that of the T-50 series and KF-21 fighter.

The Black Kite’s power comes from dozens of battery packs located in the aircraft’s nose, wings, and in the fuselage alongside the tandem-configuration cockpit. According to KAI, power output will be over 1,600hp (1,190kW).

KAI also has videos showing a conceptual “Next Generation Helicopter” with twin contra-rotating rotors and a pusher propeller, flying through cities and performing combat missions. The rotorcraft resembles the Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky S-97 Raider.

Source: KAI

KAI's Black Kite basic trainer concept

KAI also promoted an urban air mobility (UAM) aircraft, which would have both manned and unmanned versions. The five-seat, electrically-powered vertical take-off and landing aircraft would have a maximum speed of 135kt (250km/h) and a range of 54nm (100km), allowing it to operate 30min flights between cities. The unmanned cargo version would have a payload of 600kg (1,320lb).

KAI adds that it aims to develop its own UAM by the late 2020s.

Video footage of this year’s ADEX shows considerably less footfall versus typical years. Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, Seoul has imposed a range of travel restrictions on arriving passengers.