Electronic Weapons: Surion Seeks Safety


July 24, 2011: South Korea has selected a Canadian firm to provide AN/AAR-60 MILDS (Missile Launch Detection System) for equipping its new Surion transport helicopters with defenses against shoulder fired surface-to-air missiles (like the SAM-7 or Stinger). Once MILDS detects a threat, it then triggers a separate system that drops flares to confuse the incoming heat-seeking missile. Some nations are shifting from flares to defensive systems that use laser beams.

A typical missile defense system has two components. First, there are 4-6 ultraviolet detection sensors (weighing 3-4 kg/6-9 pounds each) mounted on different parts of the helicopter to detect an approaching missile. These sensor are linked to an 3-5 kg (7-11 pound) computer that contains software for determining that the object is indeed a missile and where it is headed. The detection computer is hooked to a countermeasures system using either flares and chaff (strips of metal foil), or a laser, to confuse the missiles guidance system (that is homing in the heat of the helicopters engines.) The countermeasures component weighs 14-17 kg (30-50 pounds), depending on type or model.

For over a decade there was is a debate over whether to equip helicopters with flares and chaff, or systems that use a laser to confuse the missiles guidance system. The laser systems originally cost about 40 percent more than the flare based ones (which costs about two million dollars per aircraft). But the cost difference has been shrinking. The flare systems use a proven technology, while the laser based ones have slowly been gaining experience under combat conditions. Thus there's increasing enthusiasm for the laser. This is because it's harder for incoming missiles to get past lasers, and because as long as you have electricity, your laser system has ammo. Flare systems can run out of flares.

South Korea introduced its new helicopter two years ago. It's the first domestically designed and manufactured helicopter. This KUH (Korean Utility Helicopter), nicknamed "Surion," carries two pilots and 11 passengers. It can be armed with 7.62mm machine-guns. Some 60 percent of the components are made in South Korea. The 8.7 ton KUH can hover at up to 3,000 meters and has a top speed of 240 kilometers an hour.

South Korea spent a billion dollars developing the KUH, and it was designed for civilian and military use. Thus South Korea becomes only one of 11 countries that produces helicopters. Full scale production begins next year. The South Korean military is buying 250 KUHs to replace its UH-1s and 500MDs. South Korea plans to energetically market the KUH overseas.


Article Archive

Electronic Weapons: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close