Five killed in crash of new military helicopter during test flight

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2018-07-17 19:08 Updated : 2018-07-17 19:08
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[Yonhap News Photo]

SEOUL -- A new Marine Coprs helicopter crashed and was burned down Tuesday at a naval air base in the southeastern port city of Pohang, leaving five people dead and one injured, South Korean military authorities said.

The MUH-1 Marineon helicopter was on a test flight after maintenance when it went down from a height of about 10 meters at 4:46 p.m. (0746 GMT), according to police and military officials.

It was one of the two Marineon helicopters delivered in January for a test operation. The Marineon with a folding main rotor is an amphibious variant of Surion, a twin-engine transport utility helicopter developed by South Korea's sole aircraft manufacturer, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). 

The Marineon armed with two 7.62mm machineguns can fly for more than two hours at the maximum speed of 265 km per hour. KAI has a military contract to deliver 28 Marineons by 2023.

To replace an aging fleet of utility helicopters, the Surion project was launched in 2006 with Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter) selected as a technical partner in South Korea's biggest arms deal ever with a non-American company. Since its development was completed in July 2012, 60 Surion choppers have been delivered to the army.

However, state auditors have found the Surion exposed various defects in the field of flight stability, lightning protection and anti-icing capability that caused engine failure and other safety problems, leading to the suspension of delivery. In June, Surion passed the test of anti-icing capability.