European MBDA has clinched a contract from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to integrate the Mistral ATAM anti-air missile system into the Korean Marine Attack Helicopter (KMAH).
Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) debuted its KMAH helicopter at the 2021 ADEX show. This aircraft stands as the armed iteration of the Marineon helicopter, itself a variant of the KUH-1 Surion. The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) took action in October 2022, awarding KAI a $310 million contract to spearhead the development of the KMAH for the Republic of Korea (ROK) Marine Corps. The contract outlines a 46-month timeline for execution.
KAI's mission is to craft a helicopter that can support the marine corps during amphibious maneuvers and plays a crucial role in bolstering amphibious assault operations and air assault forces. Its primary role extends to providing crucial air fire support for ground combat units in the final phases of operations.
Though not officially confirmed, there are intriguing reports suggesting the KMAH's armament will include turret-type machine guns, a selection of guided and unguided rockets, and air-to-ground missiles. Concept art depicting the attack helicopter hints at the presence of an M197 electric cannon beneath the cockpit. Additionally, the helicopter may be equipped with Stinger missiles and up to eight Hanwha Techwin "Cheon-geom" anti-tank missiles. According to prior DAPA information, the helicopter has the capacity to carry 38 unguided 2.75-inch rockets in pods.
The Mistral ATAM system, an extension of the Mistral short-range anti-air missile known for its "fire-and-forget" engagement mode, equips each helicopter with two launchers capable of carrying two Mistral ATAM missiles. Notable specifications include its 18.7 kg weight, 1.86-meter length, 90 mm diameter, a remarkable maximum intercept range of 6.5 km, and a minimum intercept range of 500 meters.
This system can be operated throughout the entire flight envelope of the launch helicopter, even at speeds of up to 200 knots and altitudes exceeding 15,000 ft. It travels at supersonic speeds and can engage targets at ranges of up to 8km and at altitudes of up to 6,000m. This missile weighs less than 20kg and has a 3kg warhead coupled with a laser proximity and impact fuze.
To ensure precise target interception, the missile employs a shaped trajectory for top-down or long-range engagements, and the crew can select the proximity fuze mode as needed.
It is worth noting that the Republic of Korea's Armed Forces already utilize the man-portable Mistral air defense systems.