The “general plan” for development of the platform was confirmed during the Defense Acquisition Program Promotion Committee meeting held on December 27. Development will take place from 2022 to 2026.
“The project will enhance the Marine Corps ability to provide air support for high-speed combined arms amphibious assault operations and to defend against a surprise attack against South Korea’s North-Western islands. In addition to this, we expect the program to stimulate domestic technological development and create jobs.”
The armed Marineon project has generated great controversy, with many questioning whether it can fulfill the role of dedicated attack helicopters. Despite this, KAI has continued research on the program, displaying a full scale mock-up of the helicopter at ADEX 2021 which took place in October.
The MAH armed Marineon is based on the Marineon transport utility helicopter, which itself is based on the KAI Surion. It will carry a total of eight Hanwha Techwin “Cheon-geom” anti-tank missiles and 38 unguided 2.75 inch rockets on side pylons, along with an M197 electric cannon below the cockpit. It will also be armed with four air-to-air variants of the LIG Nex1 Chiron missiles. KAI is also developing the manned unmanned teaming (MUM-T) system for use on the armed Marineon. The MUM-T is an unmanned platform which can be mounted on the armed Marineon’s side pylons and is designed for a diverse range of roles including attack and reconnaissance. A mock-up of the platform was displayed at ADEX next to the armed Marineon.
Other programs finalized at the December 27 meeting include the shipborne unmanned reconnaissance drone, the large transport utility helicopter, and the mobile command and control vehicle.