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Airbus, Korea Aerospace Industries in new helo partnership deal

Airbus Helicopters and Korea Aerospace Industries are to jointly develop new military and civilian helicopters.

By Richard Tomkins
Artist's impression of the attack helicopter Airbus Helicopter will jointly develop with Korea Aerospace Industries. Image: Airbus Helicopters.
Artist's impression of the attack helicopter Airbus Helicopter will jointly develop with Korea Aerospace Industries. Image: Airbus Helicopters.

PARIS, March 16 (UPI) -- Airbus Helicopters is to jointly develop and manufacture military and civilian helicopters in South Korea with Korea Aerospace Industries.

The teaming contract, which involves technology transfer, is for 214 light attack helicopters and about 100 light civil helicopters based on the technology of the latest version of the Airbus AS365B1 Dauphin, a twin-engine medium helicopter, now re-designated H155.

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The companies expected the contract to be worth an estimated $3 billion over a 29-year period.

Airbus said it will contribute technology and expertise, while KAI will be conduct some manufacturing and final assembly at its facility in Sacheon, South Korea.

Airbus Helicopters partnered earlier with KAI in the development of the KUH-1 Surion, a larger twin-engine helicopter, for the Korean military and government agencies. Export marketing of the Surion are handled by a joint venture company with KAI and a similar arrangement is planned for the new light helicopter programs.

"We would like to express our deep gratitude to Korea Aerospace Industries and the South Korean government for entrusting us with this major helicopter program," said Airbus Helicopters President Guillaume Faury. "We are committing our full support in ensuring the LCH and LAH projects will be completed on time, on cost and to specification."

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"The LCH and LAH programs will build on our collaboration with Korea Aerospace Industries on the Surion, which has become a reference in successful rotorcraft collaboration. By continuing our relationship, we will significantly reduce the risks of these two new development programs, while meeting all of the mission requirements," added Faury.

The civilian helicopter to be developed is expected to enter service in 2020. The light attack helicopter will follow two years later.

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