The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s (HAL) Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), which is set to replace ageing Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, completed its maiden flight on December 14. The maiden test flight of the third prototype (PT3) of the 3-ton class new generation helicopter was flawless, as per HAL.
The first flight of LUH PT-1 was carried on September 6, 2016, and the second Prototype flew on May 22, 2017. The configuration of the third prototype (PT3) were augmented based on the feedback from flight testing of PT1 and PT2.
The LUH is a 3-ton class new generation helicopter being indigenously developed by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) to meet the requirements of both military and civil operators. The machine which has been developed by Rotary Wing Research and Design Center (RWR&DC) of HAL will be manufactured at a green field helicopter manufacturing facility at Tumakuru, Karnataka, which is under progress.
The design and development was launched in February 2009. The initial Ground Test Vehicle (GTV) run was carried out on Dec 6, 2014.
The successful completion of the first flight of LUH’s third prototype is a quantum leap and will soon replace the aging fleet of Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, said HAL Director (Engg and R&D) Arup Chatterjee, as per a PTI report.
Features of HAL Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) ::
The HAL Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) is a 3-tonne light helicopter. According to HAL, it possesses a cruise speed of 235 km/h, maximum speed of 260 km/h, service ceiling of up to 6.5 km, a range of 350 km, a maximum take-off weight of 3.12 tonne and an empty weight of 1.91 tonne. The LUH will be capable of accommodating a maximum of two pilots and six passengers, all of which shall be seated on crashworthy seats; externally, it is capable of carrying cargoes of up to 1 tonne underslung. It will be able to undertake various missions, including emergency medical services (EMS), troop transport, utility, search and rescue (S&R), VVIP, aerial reconnaissance and surveillance missions.
The LUH is powered by a single HAL/Turbomeca Shakti turboshaft engine, which is equipped with a dual channel FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control) system along with a backup fuel control system. The helicopter will be equipped with a glass cockpit, featuring a smart cockpit display system (SCDS), along with a skid-based landing gear arrangement.
Manufacturing of LUH ::
HAL intends to perform mass production of the LUH at its new helicopter manufacturing complex at Tumakuru unit. The Tumakuru assembly line would be able to produce around 30 LUHs per year initially.
In the next 2-3 years, production would be ramped up to 60 helicopters per year. HAL has an order for 187 LUH, including 126 for Indian Army and 61 for Indian Air Force (IAF).
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