India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) on 6 September flew for the first time its Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), the third rotary-wing aircraft developed by the company.
The helicopter lifted at 1210 hours and was in the air for 15 minutes at HAL facilities. The flawless flight was carried out by HAL test pilots, the company said.
“This event marks an important and significant beginning for prototype testing of LUH. This is the third indigenous helicopter product from the stables of HAL after ALH [Advanced Light Helicopter or Dhruv] and LCH [Light Combat Helicopter]. Apart from replacement of ageing fleet of Cheetah/Chetak, LUH is expected to capture a sizeable share both in domestic and international market.”
The LUH has a maximum all-up-weight (AUW) of 3 150 kg, is fitted with a Safran HE Ardiden-1U engine developing 750 kW, has a range of 350 km, service ceiling 6.5 km and seating capacity for six passengers plus two pilots.
HAL said the helicopter is designed to carry out various utility roles such as reconnaissance, transport, cargo load and rescue operations.
Ground testing of the helicopter were concluded in 2015 but first flight was delayed due to certification issues in the software used in the helicopter.
The LUH has been in development since 2008, when the Indian armed forces projected a requirement for a light helicopter to carry troops and supplies to border areas. More than 200 are estimated to be needed by India’s three armed forces.
HAL plans to start manufacturing the LUH from 2018.