South Korea last week issued a request for proposals (RFP)to seven manufacturers for its planned Korean Multirole Helicopter (KMH), providing additional information on its requirement.

AgustaWestland, Bell Helicopter, Boeing, Eurocopter, Kaman, Sikorsky and a Russian consortium organised by the Rosoboronexport armaments agency have been asked to propose partnership arrangements with Korea Aerospace Industries for the design and development of the new aircraft.

South Korea is requesting the delivery of a 5,900-6,800kg (13,000-15,000lb) helicopter, to be fielded first as a utility aircraft in 2010, with an attack variant to follow in 2012.

The foreign manufacturers have also been told of potential partnership opportunities with the national Agency of Defence Development (ADD) and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI).

The ADD is preparing to release its own RFP later this year for the aircraft's mission equipment, with the KARI to do the same for major subcomponents, including the KMH's engine, rotor, transmission and avionics.

South Korea will later decide whether it should import, purchase locally or pursue a joint venture for each of the aircraft's major systems components.

The bidders have until 15 June to submit their partnership proposals, with South Korea to announce the downselect of two or three companies by late July. A final choice is expected by the end of November for the potentially 477-aircraft KMH requirement, although this $1 billion purchase could be reduced, or even scrapped, when the government decides on its long-term defence priorities later this year.

Source: Flight International