South Korea’s government on Monday tapped Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. to develop a dedicated medical evacuation helicopter for its troops based on the existing Surion.
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration said it picked South Korea’s sole aircraft manufacturer and total systems integrator as the primary negotiating partner for the project that will cost 32 billion won ($31 million).
|A CG image of KAI’s dustoff helicopter for the Korean Army.|
The development of the new variant of the Surion, or Korea Utility Helicopter, will take place up until 2016 with operational machines reaching troops the following year, it said.
The choppers will be equipped with the latest equipment to treat wounded soldiers and transport them to hospital.
DAPA said the medevac version of the KUH will have extra external fuel tanks, weather radar, ground collision warning systems and a host of other features that will allow it to be operated day or night, and in adverse weather conditions.
The chopper will have a hoist and a so-called trunked radio system to maintain live communication with the hospital to facilitate treatment on arrival. It will also have the latest medical equipment on board such as a respirator, vital signs monitor, facilities for emergency surgery, and an automated external defibrillator.
“Once it reaches troops, the chopper will contribute to saving lives,” the agency said.
It added that Seoul will establish an airborne medical evacuation unit in 2015 that will use the Surion medevac helicopters. The unit will use UH-60 choppers until the newer models are ready.
KAI sources said that some eight choppers may be delivered first, with more to follow in due course. The specially configured helicopters, which can carry up to six stretchers, will also be used in peacetime to evacuate injured civilians living in isolated areas. (Yonhap)