The indigenously built Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) which will replace the ageing Cheetah and Chetak helicopters being used by the armed forces is set to undertake high altitude cold weather trials in January 2019.
The LU recently achieved a major milestone of flying at 6 km altitude during a trial test in Bengaluru which was carried out under the envelope expansion tests, which is a critical requirement towards the certification of LUH.
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 which is under progress.
The helicopter with Glass Cockpit will be deployed for Reconnaissance, Surveillance roles and as a light transport helicopter. The helicopter will be capable of flying at 235 Kmph, with a service ceiling of 6.5 Km and a range of 350 Km with 400 kg payload and is powered by TM/HAL Ardiden 1U/Shakti 1U single turbo shaft engine with sufficient power margins to cater to demanding high altitude missions.
The design and development was launched in February 2009. The initial Ground Test Vehicle (GTV) run was carried out on Dec 6, 2014.
HAL successfully conducted technical flight of first prototype Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) in Bengaluru on September 6, 2016. Two prototypes are currently under flight testing.
As has been reported earlier, HAL has an “in principle” order for 187 LUH, including 126 for Indian Army and 61 for Indian Air Force (IAF).