Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd., South Korea's aircraft maker, said Monday it has successfully conducted the maiden flight of a new medical transport version of its Surion helicopter.
The 20-minute test flight took place at the KAI's headquarters in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province, on Friday under the observation of about 40 officials from the defense procurement agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Army and the Armed Forces Medical Command, according to the KAI.
The new chopper will be put to further tests to verify its operability under various conditions by the end of this year before being deployed as the military's medical transport vehicle from 2018, the KAI noted.
"It is the first medical transport helicopter developed and adopted locally," the aerospace firm said in a statement.
The new chopper will come with medical transport capabilities to take charge of patient evacuation and first aid both during wartime and peacetime, the company added.
The medical transport edition is the latest variant of the KUH-1 Surion, the first-ever indigenous helicopter in South Korea which the KAI developed in 2010 via a 1.3 trillion won ($1.1 billion) military procurement project.
A police variant is currently in service with the KAI recently completing another edition for the Marine Corps.
The medical transport variant will come with weather radar, a traffic collision avoidance system and detachable auxiliary fuel tanks to be able to operate under tough climate conditions or at night.
Other emergency medical service functions like a respirator, oxygen pump and defibrillator will also be added, the KAI said.
The aircraft maker said it will replace some 400 helicopters currently in service in South Korea with new Surion choppers over the next 20 years and push to sell another 600 units outside of the country. (Yonhap)