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Dubai Airshow 2023: South Korean homegrown helicopters make international debut

14th November 2023 - 04:57 GMT | by Norbert Neumann in London


The LAH was based on Airbus's H155 Dauphin helicopter. (Photo: KAI)

Two KAI helicopters, the KUH-1E utility helicopter and the Light Attack Helicopter (LAH), have taken centre stage at the Dubai Airshow 2023.

Two helicopters manufactured by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) have been selected to participate in the daily flying display of the Dubai Airshow 2023. 

While the KUH-1E utility helicopter and Light Attack Helicopter (LAH) have been previously showcased in South Korea, it was the first time the platforms have been spotted at an international show. KAI completed the development of the Surion and LAH in 2012 and 2022, respectively.

The KUH-1's design has been based on the Airbus Helicopters AS332 Super Puma. The initial utility/assault variant, known as Surion in South Korean service, has been the foundation for various adaptations. These included the MUH-1 Marineon amphibious assault helicopter for the Republic of Korea Marine Corps and specialised versions for firefighting, medical evacuation, law enforcement, anti-submarine warfare and coast guard operations. 

KAI ramps up LAH production even as it develops new Surion variants

Two ready to tango in South Korean helicopter competition

The platform has been equipped with a chin-mounted sensor, 20mm rotating gun and stub wings that can carry weapons such as 70mm rockets, plus quad and dual launchers for air-to-ground missiles. KAI introduced the KUH-1E, a version specifically designed for export, in 2019. 

The LAH has been based on an Airbus' H155 Dauphin helicopter. Two versions, the initial Light Civil Helicopter (LCH) and the armed Light Attack Helicopter (LAH), have been derived from the H155. Both types have been powered by the Safran Arriel 2L2 turboshaft, produced under license by Hanwha at Changwon.

The South Korean government selected KAI in July 2014 to develop LAH and the related LCH. KAI and Airbus Helicopters signed an agreement to jointly develop the types in March 2015. 

The LAH will be expected to succeed the MD500 and Bell AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters in the South Korean military. 

In September 2022, KAI announced a Light Utility Helicopter derivative, emphasising troop-carrying capabilities and suitability for special forces missions. 

Shephard's Dubai Airshow 2023 coverage is sponsored by:

World Defense Show
Norbert Neumann


Norbert Neumann

Norbert is the Aviation, Military Training & Simulation reporter at Shephard Media. Before joining Shephard in …

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