South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration has issued a request for proposals for 36 attack helicopters under the nation's AHX requirement, with bids due by 10 May.

Seoul expects to take delivery of the helicopters in 2016, said Boeing in a response to an email enquiry. The company is pitching its AH-64D Apache Block III in the competition, with likely rivals to include the Bell AH-1Z Cobra, Eurocopter Tiger and Turkish Aerospace Industries T129B.

Boeing said last September that it expected a downselect decision in July 2012, followed by a contract award in October 2012.

Seoul has long been interested in the Apache, which the US Army has operated in South Korea for decades. In addition, Korea Aerospace Industries already produces the airframe for the AH-64 at its factory in Sachon.

 Block III Apache - US Army

© US Army

South Korea is believed to have a preference for Boeing's Block III Apache

The US Army's withdrawal of Apaches from the Korean peninsula for use in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has added impetus to the Seoul's AHX acquisition.

Offsets for the programme will likely be applied to Seoul's planned Korea Attack Helicopter, roles for which would include countering any North Korean infiltration along South Korea's coastline and flying counter-penetration missions along the demilitarised zone that separates the neighbours.

In addition, Seoul is also interested in developing a light version of the KAH to replace its Hughes MD500s and generate overseas sales for its national aerospace sector.

Source: Flight International