Korea Aerospace Industries’ LCH-LAH civil and military helicopter is on track for prototype assembly in 2018 following conclusion of the KAI program’s critical design review.

Parts fabrication is under way. The first unit of LAH light-attack version should be rolled out in November 2018 in preparation for a first flight six months later.

South Korea chose the Airbus H155 as the basis of the LCH-LAH in March 2015. The H155, a late-1990s design, is a wide-cabin derivative of the AS356 Dauphin of the 1970s. The Republic of Korea Army requires 200 LAHs. Airbus, a partner in the program, estimates demand for both types, including exports, at 900.

The critical design review was completed on Dec. 4, KAI says. This is the step in an engineering program in which managers determine that the detail design meets requirements, confirm its compatibility with related systems and assess risks.

Risks should not be great, especially for the LCH civil version, because the structure, basic systems and Safran Arriel 2 engine of the H155 have been retained; indeed, the program amounts to transfer of H155 production to KAI.

Avionics and the blades and gearbox of the main rotor are upgraded from the H155 standard. Further, the LAH will have considerably improved version of the Arriel 2 and will carry military equipment. One option for armament is four Hanwha Skysoad anti-tank missiles. An alternative payload is a 20-mm cannon developed by S & T Motiv and 70-mm unguided rockets.

Systems will include laser, radar and missile warning receivers and a countermeasures dispenser on each side.

Fabrication of detail parts for the first LAH began in June 2017. The LCH is due to be certified in 2020, two years before deliveries of the LAH should begin.

Hanwha Techwin is helping to develop and build the LAH’s Arriel 2L2 version of the engine, with a new axial compressor, high-pressure compressor diffuser, high-pressure turbine material and dual-channel FADEC.

Hanwha Techwin will build major parts of the Arriel L2L and assemble it at its Changwon plant in the south of the country. The firm will also maintain the engine in service.

Full-scale development of the LCH-LAH began in June 2015. The 200 LAHs and 36 Boeing AH-64E Apaches will replace the army’s 200 MD500s and 70 Bell AH-1S Cobras. The large cabins of the H155 and alternative designs were hardly ideal for the battlefield attack mission, but were necessary for the civil version demanded by the industry ministry.

The H155 was formerly known as the EC155 B1.