Attack Helicopter makers are making a bee-line to the Seoul ADEX 2021 as South Korea decided to acquire an additional 36 foreign-made attack helicopters for the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA).
The defence project promotion committee, presided over by Defense Minister Suh Wook, approved a plan to import around 36 large combat helicopters with a budget of 3.17 trillion won (US$2.81 billion), according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).
The country’s Defense Project Promotion Committee decided that the rotorcraft, which are intended to replace the RoKA’s Bell AH-1S attack helicopters, are to be acquired under the second phase of the ‘Large Attack Helicopter Project’.
South Korea secured and deployed 36 Boeing AH-64E Apache helicopters under the first round of the project between 2012 and 2021.
“We will begin procedures to select the exact type of this asset and a company to purchase attack choppers. The budget has increased due to inflation and the necessary addition of some equipment and facilities,” a DAPA official was quoted by the Yonhap News Agency.
A total of 850 billion won will be poured into the project which is to be launched next year to continue through 2030, and the envisioned model is expected to be based on the country’s Marineon, the Marine variant of KUH-1 Surion helicopter, according to officials.
“One of the Army’s key operational focuses is the improvement of an air assault capability,” according to Kim Dae-young, a research fellow at Korea Research Institute for National Strategy, a Seoul-based think tank. “Toward that end, the South Korean Army now seeks to model after the U.S. 101st Airborne Division consist of helicopters and infantry forces.”
The South Korean Army recently ran simulations of how fast and effective its airborne capability can advance into the North in case of war, according to sources.
The South Korean Army now operates two Apache battalions.
“The simulations are known to have showed that the fleet of Apache helicopter is more effective than main battle tanks in penetrating the North’s air defense network and making breach for our forces,” Kim noted.
Based on the results, the Army is said to have reported the needs of procuring more Apache attack helicopters to the Ministry of National Defense.
Seoul bought 36 Boeing-built AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters in 2013 under a Foreign Military Sales contract valued US$1.6 billion.
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