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HAL test flies third light copter prototype

State-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has test flown the third prototype of Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), the defence behemoth said on Monday.

“The third prototype (PT3) of LUH made its maiden flight on December 14. The chopper was flown by test pilots Wing Commander (retired) Anil Bhambhani and Group Captain (retired) M.R. Anand,” the city-based HAL said in a statement.

The development came soon after the defence major announced on December 10 that a prototype of the LUH was test flown at an altitude of six kilometres, which is considered a critical requirement for the certification of the light helicopter.

The third prototype’s flight was flawless and would augment the flight testing towards certification, HAL said.

“With this flight, LUH is now close to production clearance and HAL is confident of meeting the requirements of the armed forces,” said the aerospace major Chairman and Managing Director R. Madhavan in the statement.

The LUH is a three-tonne class single-engine light helicopter under development by the HAL, so as to replace the aging Cheetah and Chetak choppers used by the Indian defence forces.

The LUH prototype took its first flight on September 6, 2016 and the second prototype flew on May 22, 2017. HAL is planning high altitude cold weather trials of LUH in January 2019.

The state-run aerospace firm has an “in principle” order for 187 LUH — 126 for the Indian Army and 61 for the Indian Air Force.

The helicopter is being indigenously developed by HAL to meet the requirements for both military and civil operations.

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