Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI)
Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province, South Korea
Founded in 1999, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) based in South Korea is an aerospace and defense company. Korea Aerospace Industries manufacturers and produces helicopters, general aviation airplanes, fighter jets, satellites, launch vehicles and more. One of their most recent projects is a military reconnaissance hybrid-electric tilt-rotor vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft. The company is now in the business of making commercial hybrid-electric and all-electric VTOL passenger aircraft for advanced air mobility (AAM) as part of its new strategy to make KAI the number one aerospace company in Asia by 2030.
The full name of the military VTOL aircraft is the Night Intruder 500 Vectored Thrust (aircraft) or the NI-500VT. The aircraft was made for a potential Republic of Korea Army (RoKA) requirement for a next-generation, reconnaissance and target acquisition high-speed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The NI-500VT concept model was displayed at the Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition 2021 (ADEX 2021) held from 19-23 October 2021 in South Korea.
The uncrewed Night Intruder is a surveillance and target acquisition military hybrid-electric tilt-rotor VTOL concept with two tilt-rotors, two rear fixed VTOL propellers and fixed-skid type landing gear. No cruise speeds or cruise altitudes have been reported as of the fall of 2021. The concept design can also carry a payload up to 40 kg (88 lb). The aircraft is 4 m (13.1 ft) in length, 4.3 m (14.1 ft) wide and 1.2 m (3.94 ft) high.
The main high wing is a stationary wing and does not rotate. At the ends of the main high wing are the front two tilt-rotors. The two tilt-rotors are used for VTOL, transition flight and forward flight. The rear tail is a stationary V-tail and at the top of each vertical stabilizer is a fixed propeller for VTOL flight only. During VTOL and transition flight, all rotors are used. During forward flight, the aircraft uses its two main tilt-rotors and the two rear VTOL propellers are turned off. The aircraft's main wing can be disassembled for ground or air transportation.
The tilt-rotor aircraft has multiple sensors which can locate targets and other data then transmit everything in real-time to a command center which can then take appropriate action such as order attack helicopters or fighter jets to eliminate targets. The Night Intruder can fly on its battery packs over enemy territory very quietly for five hours. When the battery packs need recharging, the combustion engine can recharge the battery packs mid-flight.
It is unknown when flying prototypes were made and how much testing has been accomplished. It is also unknown if the production aircraft will be larger and when estimated production will begin.
- Aircraft type: Military hybrid-electric VTOL concept design cargo and surveillance aircraft
- Piloting: Uncrewed
- Capacity: 40 kg
- Cruise speed: Unknown
- Range: Unknown
- Flight Time: 5 hours
- Cruise altitude: Unknown
- Maximum payload: 40 kg (88 lb)
- Maximum takeoff weight: 450 kg (992 lb)
- Length: 4 m (13.1 ft)
- Width: 4.3 m (14.1 ft)
- Height: 1.2 m (3.94 ft)
- Propellers: 4 propellers
- Electric Motors: 4 electric motors
- Power source: Battery packs and an internal combustion engine which charges the batteries during flight
- Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
- Wings: 1 main high wing
- Tail: V-tail
- Landing gear: Fixed skid-type landing gear
- Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers (or ducted fans) and motors on the aircraft so if one or more propellers (ducted fans) or motors fail, the other working propellers (or ducted fans) and motors can safely land the aircraft.
- Korea Aerospace Industries website
- Korea Aerospace Industries Facebook
- Korea Aerospace Industries YouTube Channel
- Video: KAI ADEX 2021: Drone Vision, KAI, Oct. 17, 2021
- Article: Korean UAVs rise to the fore at Seoul ADEXm, Shephard Media, Oct. 21, 2021
- Article: KAI and KAL eye RoKA's future division-level reconnaissance UAV programme, Janes, Oct. 29, 2021
- Article: KAI shows concept of the unmanned tiltrotor NI-500VT, Helispot, Nov. 2021
- Video: Korean division-level vertical take-off and landing unmanned reconnaissance aircraft developed and introduced for 1.3 trillion won! Unmanned attack aircraft under development for export!, Anti-Reporter Knowledge Base, Dec. 9, 2021