Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) conducted the first flight of its NI-600VT unmanned helicopter on September 24 at the company’s Goheung Aerospace Center. The “NI” in the designation stands for night intruder. In the first test flight, KAI tested its hovering and horizontal movement functions to validate flight control performance.
Based on the 600-kg (1,323-pound) RotorWay A600 Talon kit-built light helicopter, the NI-600VT can carry a payload of 281 kg (620 pounds) on the power of its RH 600T 168-hp turbocharged engine, and its 17-gallon fuel tank provides an endurance of 1.7 hours. KAI spent two years self-funding and developing the automatic flight controls and avionics, as well as enhancing the flight control computer, sensors, and datalink.
KAI plans to complete the first phase of development by the end of 2019, by validating the NI-600VT’s takeoff and landing abilities, before embarking on phase-two trials. The Korean company said it is also developing a fixed-wing, long-endurance UAV and is expanding the fleet line-up with future combat UCAVs and unmanned aerial loitering munitions to meet future market requirements.
The first flight of the NIU-600VT follows shortly after that of Korean Air’s unmanned MD500 helicopter, known as the KUS-VH, which began flight testing on August 2.