Korean Air's Aerospace division has publicly unveiled, for the first time, a mock-up of an armed scout-attack variant of its planned Korean Multi-purpose Helicopter (KMH).

Sikorsky has provided assistance with conceptual design of the KMH, and some aspects bear a strong resemblance to the US manufacturer's S-70 Black Hawk helicopter, which is built under licence by Korean Air.

The 3.4t-class machine has a dual fly-by-light/hydraulic flight- control system, a six-seat main cabin, a four-blade main rotor and ducted tail rotor. It's designed to be powered by two yet-to-be selected 670-745kW (900-1,100shp) turbo-shaft engines, says Korean Air executive vice-president Yi Taek Shim.

In the KMH's primary scout-attack role, it will have a maximum design speed of 165kt (300km/h), a climb rate of 2,100ft/m (10.6m/s) and a range of 650km (350nm). The helicopter will carry an under-slung load of 1,360kg and operating up to an altitude of 20,000ft (6,100m), with a hover ceiling of 13,500ft.

Two side-mounted weapon pylons will typically be able to accommodate four Rockwell AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missiles or four Hughes Stinger air-to-air missiles, 14 or 38 70mm-rocket packs and twin 322mm machine-gun pods. Sensors include a nose-mounted forward-looking infra- red imager/ sight and self-defence jammer/ radar-warning receiver.

The KMH is being proposed to the South Korean army as a replacement for its large fleet of McDonnell Douglas MD500 scout machines, and is in competition with Daewoo's proposed Korean Light Helicopter (KLH). Army interest in the KLH has waned: the programme has been on hold since 1990.

In an effort to reduce unit costs and widen the KMH market potential, Korean Air is proposing parallel development of a civil version. The helicopter would share the same basic airframe as that of the KMH, but would be built to civil-certification standards on a separate production line.

Shim forecasts a domestic need for up to 400-500 military KMHs and another 100-150 civil versions. Korean Air hopes to secure funding to begin full development in 1997 and to deliver the first production machine in 2000.

While Sikorsky has already provided some initial assistance with preliminary design work, Shim insists that the programme "-door is open" to either Euro-copter or MDC.

Korean multi-purpose helicopter: shown for first time at Seoul.

Source: Flight International