MELBOURNE, Australia — South Korea has chosen the Bell 505 as its next military training helicopter, according to the manufacturer.
Bell, which is a subsidiary of American firm Textron, announced that South Korea will acquire 40 of the helos to train its helicopter pilots, replacing the aging fleets of the country’s Army and Navy.
Deliveries of the helicopters, which are also known as the Jet Ranger X, will be completed by 2025.
Bell did not disclose the value of the contract, although South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, citing the country’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration, reported it was worth $133 million.
DAPA added that the contract will include eight simulators to complement the helicopters, with deliveries of the latter starting next year. The simulators are to be manufactured in South Korea.
“The Republic of Korea’s selection of the Bell 505, after a rigorous review process, confirms it is the preferred next-generation military helicopter trainer globally for training pilots,” said Patrick Moulay, senior vice president of international commercial sales at Bell. “With the ever-increasing operational needs and challenges faced by the Republic of Korea Armed Forces, Bell is privileged to play a part in training future ROKA and ROKN pilots.”
The Bell 505 is powered by a single engine that is fitted with dual-channel, full-authority digital engine controls.
The airframe weighs 2,180 pounds empty, or 4,475 pounds fully loaded, and can carry a single pilot and up to four passengers. The type made its first flight in 2014, and Bell delivered the first helicopter three years later.
The Jet Ranger X is also operated by the Jamaican military, Montenegrin Air Force, the Indonesian Navy and the Japan Coast Guard. It is also flown by several police departments in the United States.
South Korea’s military currently operates a mix of Bell UH-1 and MD 500 helicopters in the training role.
Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News. He wrote his first defense-related magazine article in 1998 before pursuing an aerospace engineering degree at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia. Following a stint in engineering, he became a freelance defense reporter in 2013 and has written for several media outlets.