KAI KUH-1 Surion

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KUH-1 Surion
KUH-1 Surion Prototype Flight Test (13614106523).jpg
Korean Utility Helicopter Prototype KUH-1 Surion
Flight test
Role Medium transport helicopter
National origin Republic of Korea
Manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries
Designer Korea Aerospace Industries
(with technical assistance from Eurocopter) [1]
First flight March 10, 2010[2]
Introduction 22 May 2013[3]
Status In service[4]
Primary user Republic of Korea Army
Produced 2010-present
Number built 40[5]
Unit cost
₩18.5 billion
US$ 18 million[6] (2013)
Developed from Eurocopter EC725

The KAI KUH-1 Surion is a twin-engine, transport utility helicopter developed primarily by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), Agency for Defense Development (ADD) and Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) jointly with Eurocopter. The Korea Helicopter Project - Korea Utility Helicopter (KHP-KUH) r&d program is to cost about 1.3 trillion won ($1.2 billion), and was launched in 2006 under the Agency for Defense Development.[7][8] Full-scale production began in 2012 with KAI being the principal builder.[8][9] Around 245 Surions are on order to replace the aging fleet of UH-1H utility helicopters and 500MD light utility helicopters,[8] which have been in service for decades. South Korea will also build civilian and law enforcement variants of the helicopter.[8]


Korean Utility Helicopter Prototype KUH-1 Surion

In June 2006, KAI and Eurocopter won the KHP-KUH 1.3 trillion-won ($1.2 billion) research and development contract from the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) to start the project. It remains Seoul's biggest arms deal ever with a non-US company.

The development of the aircraft was funded 84% by the South Korean government and 16% by Korea Aerospace Industries(KAI) and Eurocopter.[10]

A production contract worth about 4.4 trillion won ($4.3 billion) is expected to be signed around 2011 before the start of mass production. Eurocopter has a stake of 30 percent in the 2006-2012 development phase and 20 percent in the following ten-year production phase, and KAI and South Korea government having the rest. As the prime sub-contractor, Eurocopter has provided technical assistance in part for developing the power transmission, main gearbox, boom and tail gearboxes, automatic flight control system and rotor mast.[8] Eurocopter experts were dispatched to KAI premises (Sacheon, South Korea) to provide support and teach KAI engineers the state of the art in helicopter design.[8]

Power is provided by a pair of 1,600 shp Samsung Techwin T700-ST-701K turboshafts.[11] Under the contract, T700/701K, co-developed by General Electric and Samsung Techwin, is the inaugural rear-drive T700 engine and features a -701D common core, high-efficiency counterrotating power turbine, and a new FADEC system.[12]

Elbit Systems of Israel produces the Helmet mounted display (HMD), an advanced system which allow the pilot/copilot full day and night missions. A large IR suppressor exhausts of the Surion are adapted from those of the Eurocopter EC 725. The first prototype was unveiled by President Lee Myung-bak at an unveiling ceremony in Sacheon.[13]

In 2009, there was a delay in the program due to budget trimming of some ministries.[14]

On 22 May 2013 it was announced that ten Surions had been deployed to the Army Aviation School in Nonsan, South Chungcheong Province following a handover ceremony attended by President Park Geun-hye.[15]

In 2016, KAI plans to increase production of the helicopter from one per month to three per month.[5]


KAI is offering the Surion to international markets for military and civilian purposes. They have received requests for proposals from two South American nations and another Asian nation.[16] Marketing internationally is expected to ramp up in 2017, since the company has been preoccupied developing the Surion for several domestic purposes. KAI is focusing on countries they've had export success with for the T-50 Golden Eagle and KT-1 trainer.[5]

Operational history[edit]

The KUH-1 performed its first operational mission in August 2015, conducting MEDEVAC after North Korean artillery shells struck South Korean territory near the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Since entering service, the Surion has held an availability rate of over 80 percent.[5]


KUH-1/ Group takeoff for demo Flight
Korean Police version (KUH-1P Chamsuri)

The following variants were planned by KAI aside from the manufacture of the Surion.[7]

KUH-1 Surion
The basic military utility helicopter used by the Republic of Korea Army.
A medical evacuation variant. The development of the new variant of the Surion, or Korea Utility Helicopter (KUH), will take place up until 2016.[17]
A planned land and sea-based amphibious variant for the Republic of Korea Marine Corps, it will have a 96 percent part commonality with the Surion. Modifications will include an integrated flotation system, an auxiliary fuel tank, and specialised radio equipment.[18] The Marine Surion first flew on 19 January 2015. It will have a folding main rotor to serve aboard Dokdo-class amphibious assault ships.[19] Type certification is planned by November 2015, with a production contract for 36-40 helicopters expected in 2016.[5]
KUH-ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare)
A naval variant[20] equipped with torpedoes and anti-ship missiles.[5]
KUH-1P Chamsuri
Korean Police version (KUH-1P/ Chamsuri) - Surion utility helicopter chosen by the Korean National Police Agency (KNPA) for its Police Helicopter Project.[21] Equipped with a weather radar, traffic collision avoidance system, inertial navigation system, and an external hoist and cameras for rescue duties (extra electronics are needed compared to ordinary police helicopters for operations near North Korea, which frequently conducts jamming operations).[22]


 Republic of Korea
  • Republic of Korea Army: 245 KUH-1 Surions on order. The deliveries, which started in 2012, will take for eight to ten years.[23]
  • Republic of Korea Marine Corps: 40 amphibious variant planned. Sources indicate the Marine Corps will operate the Surion, including deliveries to 2023, while the Army will operate both the UH-60 and the Surion.[24]
  • National Police Agency: 2 KUH-1P aircraft ordered, both delivered by 12 February 2014.[25] In December of 2013, KAI received an additional order from National Police Agency.[26] A third will be added in late 2015, and a fourth in 2017.[22]


Data from Militaryfactory.com[27]

General characteristics

  • Crew: two pilots + two gunners + nine troops , or two pilots + 16 troops
  • Capacity: 18
  • Length: 19.0 m (with main Rotor), 15.09 m (without Rotor) (62.3 ft, 49.5 ft)
  • Rotor diameter: 15.8 m, tail 3.15 m (51.8 ft, 11.5 ft)
  • Height: 4.5 m (14.8 ft)
  • Empty weight: 4,973 kg (10,964 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 7,348 kg (16,200 lb)
  • Useful load: 3,753 kg (8,274 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 8,709 kg (19,200 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Samsung Techwin T700-ST-701K (T700-GE-701C variant) turboshaft, 1,228 kw (1,647 shp[28]) each



  • Missiles: (planned in development) 6 x BGM-71 TOW, or up to 4 rocket pod



See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists


  1. ^ http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/kai-eyes-export-market-for-surion-392351/
  2. ^ Kwon, Kyongsong (March 29, 2013). "South Korea's Utility Helo Makes Maiden Flight". Korea News. hankooki.com. Retrieved March 31, 2013. 
  3. ^ Army deploys Surion copters. koreatimes.co.kr, 22 May 2013.
  4. ^ Jung, Sung-ki (March 11, 2010). "South Korea's KAI Surion finishes development". Defence News. Army Times Publishing Company. Retrieved March 11, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f KAI readies to boost Surion production in 2016 - Flightglobal.com, 23 October 2015
  6. ^ http://www.etnews.com/201305220557 "최초 국산헬기 '수리온(KUH-1)' 첫 실전배치까지, 얼마야?" 22 March 2013. Retrieved: 05 August 2014.
  7. ^ a b Wendell Minnick and Jung Sung-Ki (2009-10-23). "S. Korea's Defense Industry Shows Progress at Show". Defense News. Retrieved 2010-04-12. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f "KAI and Eurocopter reveal the Surion". Shepard. 2009-07-31. Retrieved 2010-04-12. 
  9. ^ 백두산 높이서도 작전 수행 “이상 無” (in Korean). Yahoo Korea. 2009-07-31. Retrieved 2010-04-12. 
  10. ^ "한국형 기동헬기 실물모형 공개". donga.com. 2007-10-15. Retrieved 2014-08-20. 
  11. ^ "Turboshaft Power Supporting Global Markets and Missions". aviation.ca. Retrieved 2014-09-06. 
  12. ^ "GE's T700 Engines To Power Korean Helicopter Program (KHP)". GE aviation.com. Retrieved 2014-09-06. 
  13. ^ "Surion: Eurocopter’s Korean KHP/KUH Helicopter Deal". Defense Industry Daily. 2009-08-04. Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  14. ^ Siva Govindasamy (2009-01-10). "South Korea to delay indigenous fighter, attack helicopter programmes". Flight International. Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  15. ^ Kang Seung-woo (2013-05-22). "Army deploys Surion Copters". Korea Times. Retrieved 2013-05-23. 
  16. ^ KAI eyes export market for Surion - Flightglobal.com, 30 October 2013
  17. ^ "Gov't taps KAI to develop medevac choppers for S. Korean Army". yonhapnews.co.kr. Retrieved 2014-08-05. 
  18. ^ KAI to develop amphibious assault variant of Surion - Flightglobal.com, April 18, 2013
  19. ^ PICTURES: Amphibious assault Surion makes maiden flight - Flightglobal.com, 23 January 2015
  20. ^ "KAI, Eurocopter propose naval variant of Surion". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 2014-08-05. 
  21. ^ "KAI Surion chosen to replace Korean police helicopters". shephardmedia.com. Retrieved 2014-08-05. 
  22. ^ a b South Korea buys a 4th Surion helicopter for law enforcement missions - Airrecognition.com, 21 October 2015
  23. ^ "KAI secures $1.6bn Surion helicopter contract". army-technology.com. Retrieved 2014-08-05. 
  24. ^ http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/awx_04_18_2013_p0-570744.xml
  25. ^ "국산 헬리콥터 '수리온' 경찰에서 임무 수행". yonhapnews. Retrieved 2014-07-17. 
  26. ^ "2013년 12월, KAI에 어떤 일이 있었나?". KAI blog. Retrieved 2015-03-11. 
  27. ^ KAI KUH-1 Surion Medium-Lift Transport Helicopter (2013).militaryfactory.com.
  28. ^ "T700-701K turboshaft engines" (PDF). geaviation.com. Retrieved 2014-09-06. 
  29. ^ "우리나라 최초 국산헬기 SURION(수리온) 모습 공개". koreaaero.com. Retrieved 2014-09-21. 

External links[edit]