South Korea selects Bell 505 as new military training helicopter

Bell Textron has announced selection of the Bell 505 Jet Ranger X by the Republic of Korea as its new rotary-wing trainer for the next-generation of both Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) and Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) pilots.

Montenegro Bell 505
A Montenegro Army Air Force Bell 505 Jet Ranger X. The type has also now been ordered by South Korea for training its Army and Navy pilots Bell

The US company will manufacture and deliver up to 40 Bell 505s by 2025 under the contract signed between Korea’s Defence Acquisition Program Agency (DAPA) and Bell. DAPA said it was worth $133 million and will include eight simulators, the latter being manufactured in South Korea. Helicopter deliveries will commence in 2023, according to DAPA.

Patrick Moulay, senior vice president, International Commercial Sales, Bell, said: “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. 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.”

In February, the Bell 505 achieved 100,000 global fleet hours and there have been more than 360 Bell 505 global deliveries since 2017. The Republic of Korea Armed Forces will join government agencies across the world, including the Indonesian Navy, Jamaican Defence Force, Japan Coast Guard, Montenegrin Air Force and United Arab Emirates military in utilizing the Bell 505 as its helicopter trainer.

At present Korean military pilot training is undertaken on MD500s for the ROKA and UH-1Hs for the ROKN. Selection of the Bell 505 followed a third round of bidding. Both of the initial two rounds of bidding collapsed because the offers did not meet the required performance specifications and price sought by DAPA. The other competing bidders and types being offered have not been disclosed.