SEOUL -- B505, a glass cockpit light helicopter built by Bell Helicopter, has been selected for South Korea's military project to replace decades-old training helicopters for Army and Navy pilots. The single-engine five-seat turbine helicopter will be installed with the latest digital instrument panel and tactical navigation equipment.
South Korea will invest some 170 billion won ($133 million) to introduce 40 training helicopters by 2025. Bell has modified its Bell 505 Jet Ranger X (JRX) helicopter for pilot training, personal transportation, and emergency medical transport.
Starting in 2023, B505 will be deployed sequentially for the basic training of pilots, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), an arms procurement agency controlled by the defense ministry, said, adding that flight training simulators would be delivered by an unnamed domestic company in South Korea.
"The introduction of new helicopters is expected to address concerns about safety accidents caused by the operation of aging training helicopters," Lee Jong-hwa, a senior DAPA official in charge of helicopter programs, said in a statement on May 16.
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 kilometers (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.
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.
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