Bangaluru: India test flew its homegrown light utility helicopter for the first time, giving a boost to its military plane maker Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd’s bid to win large orders from its armed forces for the chopper.
The LUH, which is being designed to replace the ageing Chetak helicopters of the armed forces, flew for around 15 minutes on Tuesday. HAL chief test pilot Wing Commander Unni Pillai and test pilot Anil Bhambhani flew the chopper over the HAL airport to test basic parameters, an HAL spokesperson confirmed.
The three-tonne class single engine multi-purpose helicopter now needs to be certified, which HAL expects by 2017 before it is manufactured in large scale for the armed forces. So far, the armed forces have committed to order 200 LUH, to replace its ageing Chetak and Cheetah helicopters.
The choppers will be built at the new helicopter complex being set up in Tumakuru, around 70 kms outside Bengaluru.
With LUH, India has built capabilities in the light category of helicopters to serve both armed and civilian needs. HAL has its workhorse chopper Advanced Light Helicopter, the 5.5 tonne twin engine chopper that is being used by the armed forces and has built the Light Combat Helicopter – India’s helicopter gunship that is undergoing trials for certification.
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