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Eurocopter aims for S. Korean contracts

  |   Oct. 20, 2011 at 3:26 PM
SEOUL, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Eurocopter is planning to offer two defense aircraft platforms to South Korea in response to possible requests for proposals.

The company, which has headquarters in France, said the aircraft would be the Panther platform for the Light Attack Helicopter program and the Tiger for the Heavy Attack Helicopter program.

The two formal Requests for Proposal are expected to be issued by Seoul next year.

"These programs represent a key part of our long-term strategy in South Korea," said Eurocopter President and Chief Executive Officer Lutz Bertling.

"For the LAH program, we will once again support Korea Aerospace Industries in the competition, ensuring the continued development of the country's aerospace industry and defense capability.

"As for the AH-X program, the Tiger's modern state-of-the-art technology is undisputed and it has certainly proven its operational capability and reliability in Afghanistan and Libya, making it the best helicopter to meet (South Korea's) requirements."

In supporting KAI in the light attack helicopters program, Eurocopter is proposing the Panther, the military variant of Eurocopter's Dauphin, as the baseline platform for LAH development. The LAH program calls for a light aircraft in the 4.5 metric ton class with a seating capacity of six-to-eight.

With more than 1,000 Dauphin/Panther aircraft produced, it is a no-risk platform which, in its latest evolution, has the most modern avionics, engines and systems to give outstanding battle-winning performance, Eurocopter said. It is a high-speed, maneuverable, discreet and powerful asset.

Developed to South Korean military requirements by KAI, the Panther will give world-beating performance in a proven airframe with worldwide support, the company said.

Tiger is the ideal aircraft for South Korea's heavy attack helicopter requirement. It is a multi-role combat helicopter with a record of outstanding operations in close combat attack missions and as escort for utility and assault helicopters.

Eurocopter described the Tiger as "a modern, combat proven system offering unmatched performance, effectiveness, availability and support."

"Tiger has now set the standards against which all other heavy attack helicopters are measured," it said.

With 75 helicopters delivered to customers as of Aug. 31, the Tiger fleet has clocked around 30,000 flight hours.

Three Tigers have been continuously deployed by the French army in Afghanistan since July 2009 and users' feedback has been excellent, both regarding performance and maintainability.

The Tiger showed a very high level of availability (more than 90 percent) and has logged approximately 2,100 flight hours, out of which 25 percent were performed at night.

Established in 1992, the Franco-German-Spanish Eurocopter Group is a division of EADS, a leader in aerospace, defense and related services.

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