South Korea confirms failure to export Surion helicopter to the Philippines

KAI KUH-1 Surion helicopters of the Republic of Korea Army.

South Korean aircraft manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has been informed by the Philippines that its KUH-1 Surion utility helicopters was not been selected for its helicopter acquisition requirements.

This was after South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration, in a press statement on 7th January 2019, confirmed that the Philippines’ Department of National Defense (DND) already informed the South Korean authorities that the Philippine Air Force (PAF) selected an American competitor.

According to Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, the PAF has selected the Sikorsky Black Hawk after considering several factors, and also confirmed their plan to sign a contract with Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky’s mother company, for 16 Black Hawk combat utility helicopters by early 2019.

In a post by Philippine defense page MaxDefense Philippines, it mentioned that the PAF’s Combat Utility Helicopter acquisition project, with an allocated budget of PHP 12,100,000,000.00 (US$ 230 million), calls for the purchase of helicopters that can be used for utility and transport missions in both combat and peacetime operations. The project is part of the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program.

According to Sec. Lorenzana, Sikorsky offered 16 Black Hawk helicopters for the said amount, while KAI only offered 10 Surion helicopters. Former PAF chief Lt. Gen. Galileo Gerard Kintanar also confirmed last December 2018 that both companies were also competing with other manufacturers from Europe including Leonardo Helicopters (formerly AgustaWestland) with the AW139M, and Russia’s defense export agency Rosoboronexport with the Mil Mi-171V.

Separately, MaxDefense Philippines confirmed that Bell Helicopter Textron has also offered their Bell 412EPI helicopter despite a contract for 16 helicopters cancelled in early 2018 due to political reasons.

Had KAI been selected, the Philippines would have been its first export market for the Surion helicopter.

The Surion is currently plagued by problems, after a derivative operated by the Republic of Korea Marine Corps, the MUH-1 Marineon, crashed last year resulting to the death of 5 people. Investigations by the South Korean government and KAI found that parts sourced from Europe were defective.

South Korean authorities also believe that aside from offering less number of helicopters, KAI might have also lost the chance in the Philippines because of the said fatal accident.

[2] Reuters

South Korea confirms failure to export Surion helicopter to the Philippines South Korea confirms failure to export Surion helicopter to the Philippines Reviewed by Asia Pacific Defense Journal on January 08, 2019 Rating: 5

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