South Korea has signed a contract worth 170 billion won ($132.8 million) with US aerospace firm, Bell Textron Asia to purchase some 40 trainer helicopters by 2025, the state arms procurement agency said Monday (16 May).
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) signed the deal with the firm on 6 May to procure the Bell 505 helicopters and eight simulators to train Army and Navy pilots, its officials said. The simulators are to be manufactured by a Korean firm. The Korean military plans to start deploying the helicopters to the Army and the Navy next year.
“We expect safety concerns stemming from the operation of old trainer helicopters will be addressed when the new helicopters are introduced,” a DAPA official said.
The B505 is a single-engine five-seat turbine helicopter equipped with a Garmin G1000H integrated avionics system and can fly at a maximum speed of 232 kilometres (144 miles) per hour. Its airframe is constructed of metal and composites.
South Korea has used McDonnell Douglas MD 500 helicopters for the training of army pilots and UH-1H helicopters for the training of navy pilots. With the introduction of new training helicopters, DAPA said that instrument flight and simulator training are possible, DAPA said. The B505 was confirmed through the third round of bidding. The first and second bids had failed because candidates offered by foreign aircraft makers did not meet DAPA’s required performance and price. The names of B505 competitors were not disclosed.