- HAL conducted a technical flight of Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) on September 6, 2016. This event marked an important and significant beginning for prototype testing of LUH.
- It is under development for the armed forces by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
- With the Chetak and Cheetah helicopters ageing, the three forces will need 200-400 of this class for surveillance, reconnaissance, quick response, special operations and evacuations.
- This will be the third indigenous helicopter to be built by the HAL after the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH).
- In addition to two pilots, the helicopter can fly six passengers at sea level, with load capacity reducing with altitude.
- It has a range of 350 Km,
- It is a light, single-engine helicopter powered by the HAL- Safran HE Ardiden-1U engine of 750 KW power.
- It has a maximum All-Up Weight (AUW) of 3,150 Kgs, which places it in the three-tonne class.
- It has a service ceiling of 6.5 Km. That would allow it to fly to India’s highest posts in the Siachen Glacier sector.
- The HAL has been keen on LUH for a while now and has even embarked on a separate complex for chopper production in Tumakuru near Bengaluru, which will largely focus on LUH.
- It is designed to carry out various utility roles such as reconnaissance, transport, cargo load and rescue operations.
- It can operate from sea level to high altitude of Himalayas.
- The LUH is also expected to capture a sizable share in domestic and international markets.
- Civil variants of the LUH can also be used for ferrying VVIPs, as air ambulance, for policing and to search, rescue and evacuate people.
- The HAL LUH is recognized by the international industry as a replacement to other light utility helicopters such as AugustaWestland AW109, Aerospatiale SA 360 Dauphin, Eurocopter EC135, Eurocopter AS 355, Sikorsky S-70, Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and other models.
- Going by the NDA government’s push on self reliance, introduction of the HAL LUH in the market may be a highly significant step.