WASHINGTON, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Korea Aerospace Industries announced the completion of their development of the Surion variant of the Korean Utility Helicopter for the Korea Marine Corps.
Work on the helicopter began in July, 2013, with the aircraft completing its maiden flight in January. Following the maiden flight, the South Korean government moved the helicopter into an eight-month testing period, during which developers tested the aircraft in marine environments.
The Surion variant of the Korean Utility Helicopter is designed for transporting troops, equipment and additional materials in ship and marine environments. The Surion is the second variant following the variant provided to the Korean police. Korea Aerospace Industries has secured a deal to mass produce the helicopters in the first half of 2016.
The aircraft features enlarged fuel tanks added to the fuselage, bringing the total number of fuel tanks to six, two more than the previous variant. The helicopter's blades are equipped with a folding device, allowing it to be stored on a ship. Additional equipment includes emergency float devices for search and rescue operations.
"In case of the military and public agency purpose helicopter demand, Korea should put a priority on its homegrown version in order to seek development of the local helicopter industry," a company official for KAI said in a statement.
The company plans to sell over 1,000 helicopters, allocating 400 units for sales inside the country, and 600 for sales to other countries.