Surion-Korea Utility Helicopter (photo : Chosun)
SEOUL - The first prototype of the Surion utility helicopter, co-developed by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and Eurocopter, successfully completed its first flight March 10, about seven months after its rollout, South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced.
The 30-minute flight took place at an air base in Sacheon, some 430 kilometers (about 265 miles) southeast of Seoul, before a crowd of about 160 guests, the agency said in a news release.
Two test pilots and an engineer maneuvered the 8.7-metric-ton aircraft through taxi, hover and hover turns. The helicopter performed a stationary hover at 30 feet, the release said.
"The Surion will be test-flying at an altitude of 2,000 feet and a cruising speed of 140 knots by April," a DAPA spokesman said. "A full-scale flight test will begin in May before initial production in late 2010."
Under the Korea Utility Helicopter (KUH) program that began in 2006, South Korea plans to produce 245 troop-carrying helicopters to replace aging UH-1H and MD 500 helicopters.
In June 2006, KAI and Eurocopter inked a 1.3 trillion-won ($1.1 billion) research-and-development contract, Seoul's biggest arms deal ever with a non-U.S. company. A production contract worth about 4.4 trillion won is expected to be signed around 2011.
The companies plan to set up a joint venture company to market the KUH globally.
The Surion has a top speed of 240 kilometers per hour and can carry two pilots and 11 troops, according to KAI. It can hover at 9,258 feet with a climbing speed of 500 feet per minute and stay in the air well over two hours.
The helicopter also features a four-axis digital automatic flight-control system and a cockpit with multifunctional liquid crystal displays.
Survivability gear includes laser warning receivers, a missile warning system, chaff and flare dispensers, and an electronic warfare system.(Defense News)