Airbus Helicopters, KAI take a step forward to initiate the serial production phase of LAH

Airbus Helicopters and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) have taken a significant step forward in their partnership by signing an agreement to initiate the serial production phase of the Light Armed Helicopters (LAH). This move follows a contract awarded to KAI by South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration in December 2022, which mandated the supply of an initial batch of ten LAH to the Republic of Korea Army. The deliveries are scheduled to commence by the end of 2024, with ongoing orders expected to continue into the next decade.
Under this agreement, Airbus Helicopters and KAI will enter the next phase of the LAH program, intensifying production at KAI’s Sacheon facility in South Korea. Airbus Helicopters will play a crucial role in supporting KAI’s order fulfillment by providing the necessary kits for mass production.
Matthieu Louvot, Executive Vice President of Programs, Airbus Helicopters said, “KAI is a long-time trusted partner with whom we have successfully developed several helicopter programs. We are happy to strengthen this strategic partnership with these agreements, where we will secure the delivery of these two highly performing platforms for many years to come.”
Simultaneously, both companies have extended their commitment to the joint Korean Utility Helicopter (KUH Surion) program, which aims to cater to various operational requirements across military, civil, and parapublic sectors. This expansion follows the recent launch of new KUH variants such as the Marine Attack Helicopter and Mine Countermeasure Helicopter, along with their forthcoming iterations. These programs will benefit from Airbus Helicopters’ expertise in flight control systems and helicopter drive systems, coupled with KAI’s prowess in industrialization for local production. Airbus Helicopters has also pledged to support KAI with additional serial deliveries.
Han Chang Heon, Executive Vice President of the Rotorcraft Division, KAI said, “These two long-term agreements will contribute to increasing the competitiveness of KUH Surion and LAH in both local and global markets, by stabilizing kit deliveries and prices, while strengthening partnership in various rotorcraft businesses.
Airbus and KAI initiated their partnership in 2006, collaborating on the development of the KUH Surion. This collaboration continued with the subsequent development of the LAH. The LAH prototype successfully completed its maiden flight in July 2019 and underwent rigorous testing, leading to qualification for combat suitability in all-weather conditions in 2022.
These next-generation 5-tonne class helicopters, the LAH, have been tailored to meet South Korea’s requirements for deployment across both civil and military sectors. This well-established partnership has already resulted in the delivery of approximately 300 kits to KAI, with more orders lined up for future deliveries.