First KAI Light Armed Helicopter Due For Delivery This Year

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South Korea’s arms procurement agency, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) will hand over the first of the all-new Light Armed Helicopter (LAH) to the Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) this year after it completes inspections. The LAH was first developed in 2015 through a USD488 million, eight-year programme to supersede the increasingly aging 500MD and Bell AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters currently flying with ROKA Aviation.

Among the various armaments of the LAH, are 2.75-inch rockets and the indigenous lightweight, air-launched lock-on-before-launch (LOBL) Hanwha Taipers anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) as well as a 20mm chain gun. The Taipers missile is anticipated to enter service from 2026 onwards as mass production is slated to begin this year. 

According to DAPA, the missile system uses a dual-mode seeker utilising both visible light and infrared images and guided by a fibre-optic datalink.

With the LAH presently in the final stages of assembly, the helicopter is part of a USD225.6 million contract with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to build 10 LAHs aimed for delivery by December this year. Last December, DAPA agreed to another USD1 billion contract with KAI for an unspecified number of LAHs. shp/adj/dl (Pix:Korea Aerospace Industries)