DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The United Arab Emirates is negotiating the purchase of South Korean helicopters, with the aim of signing a deal by year’s end, according to an official with the manufacturer.

The Emirati military is seeking an undisclosed number of KUH-1E helicopters from Korea Aerospace Industries, Cho Seok Joon, a senior manager with the company’s rotorcraft division, told Defense News during the Dubai Airshow, which runs Nov. 13-17.

The KUH-1E is an export version of the twin-engine KUH-1 Surion. The former can carry 18 people, including two pilots, whereas the latter can accommodate 18 total. The UAE is seeking a maritime variant.

“Instead of the gun present in the KUH, it is equipped with a radar,” Cho noted.

A spokesperson with the Emirati Defence Ministry told Defense News the country is currently evaluating the aircraft.

“At the ministry, we have several layers of tests for all equipment. Once it’s complete, we give our verdict,” the representative said.

The Surion can perform military transport and airfreight missions, among other functions.

The export variant’s power comes from a pair of 1,855-shaft-horsepower GE T700-701K turboshaft engines. It can reach a maximum speed of 147 knots (169 mph) and has a maximum takeoff weight of 19,200 pounds.

Awad Mustafa was a Middle East and Africa correspondent for Defense News.

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