PARIS/SEOUL, June 17 (Yonhap) -- Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. (KAI), South Korea's sole aircraft maker, said Friday it will join forces with Europe's Airbus Helicopters to develop its Surion chopper to carry out maritime operations.
A senior official at Airbus Helicopters told reporters in Paris that the two companies plan to co-develop a naval version of the Surion (KUH-1), saying there would be demand for about 250 such choppers over the next 10 years, according to pool reports.
KAI and Airbus are among an estimated 1,600 defense-related suppliers attending the biennial Eurosatory defense expo, which kicked off in Paris on Monday for a five-day run.
A naval helicopter, whose global market is estimated to reach some 70 trillion won (US$60 billion), is designed to detect and attack surface ships or submarines.
The Surion chopper was produced as part of a 1.3 trillion won military procurement project designed to create the country's first locally built helicopter. Since its first flight test in 2010, the helicopter has been adapted for both military and non-military missions.
KAI and Airbus Helicopters (AH) have maintained a strategic partnership over the last 10 years as the European firm has joined KAI's projects such as the development of light civil helicopters (LCHs).