15 Juni 2011
Surion medium lift helicopter (photo : Defense Times)
Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and Eurocopter have established an export company to promote export sales of the KAI-built Surion helicopter.
The joint venture, KAI-EC Surion Export Company, was established in February and has a majority stake (51%) held by KAI while the remainder is held by Eurocopter.
The organisation believes that the partnership with Eurocopter will give the aircraft the best opportunity of gaining entry into the market, which KAI says has 'high barriers to entry'.
The JV will also take advantage of the marketing infrastructure and expertise established by Eurocopter.
Using Eurocopter's market outlook, the joint venture believes it secure an export market for as many as 400 Surion helicopters. The type will be competing alongside the AW149 and the UH-60M for export customers.
The 8.7 ton Surion was designed by KAI in co-operation with Eurocopter and has been developed to replace the existing utility helicopters in the South Korean Army fleet including UH-1Hs and MD500s. The Surions will be tasked with troop assault, search and rescue, tactical lift, liaison and medical evacuation operations and other missions.
The first flight was carried out in March 2010 and the South Korean government has since given the green light for production to begin in September 2012, with the first deliveries expected in 2013.