Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has conducted the maiden flight of a Surion transport helicopter optimised for amphibious assault operations.
On 19 January the modified Surion, also designed the Korea Utility Helicopter (KUH) flew for 30 minutes with two test pilots and two technicians on boards, says KAI.
The sortie, which took place at KAI’s Sacheon factory, included ground tests, forward flight, backward flight, and hovering.
The type is optimised for the South Korean marines, and features a foldable main rotor and an auxiliary fuel tank. The helicopter also has emergency floats that can be deployed in the event of a ditching.
Throughout 2015 the amphibious Surion will be tested in a range of environments, including cold weather and aboard ships.
In April 2013, KAI told Flightglobal that the marines would acquire “about 40” of the variant. The helicopter is likely to serve aboard the navy’s Dokdo amphibious assault ships, of which one is in service, and one is being built.
KAI said the development programme is worth W800 billion ($738 million) and will enhance the marines' ability to transport troops and equipment in the littoral environment. Production of the variant will likely commence after the 2015 testing campaign.