Indian Air Force

India’s own light helicopter for army ready to get initial operational clearance

Photo: India’s HAL-built Light Utility Helicopter during high altitude trials.

New Delhi: India today said its locally developed Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) has competed and demonstrated its capability in hot weather in high altitude conditions in the Himalayas for about 10 days recently. The LUH, an army variant, is now ready for Initial Operational Clearance (IOC).

The trials of the LUH have taken place in the Ladakh region, where the militaries of India and China, two nuclear armed nations, are in an eye ball-to-eye ball confrontation along the Line of Actual Control, the undemarcated, de facto border.

Developed by the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the LUH executed the comprehensive test plan at Leh (capital of Union Territory of Ladakh) at an altitude of 3,300 metres above mean sea level (MAMSL) in temperatures of up to ISA+320C (International Standard Atmosphere plus 320 C).

This included envelope expansion, performance and flying qualities, a statement from the HAL’s Bengaluru headquarters said.

Photo: The HAL Light Utility Helicopter trials in the Himalayas.

“(The) LUH took off from Leh and demonstrated its hot and high hover performance at Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) at 5,000 MAMSL,” the statement said.

“The helicopter also demonstrated its payload capability in Siachen Glacier high altitude. During the trials, pilots landed the helicopter at the highest helipads of Amar and Sonam (in Siachen Glacier).”

HAL Chairman and Managing Director R. Madhavan said the army version of LUH is now ready for Initial Operational Clearance.

“The performance of the helicopter and its systems are satisfactory fulfilling the requirements of the users. All planned tests were successfully demonstrated,” said HAL Director (Engineering and Research and Development) Arup Chatterjee.

The flights were carried out by composite trial team, which included pilots from HAL — Wing Commander Unni Pillai (Retired), who is the Chief Test Pilot for Rotary Wing, Wing Commander Anil Bhambani (Retired), Group Captain Pupinder Singh (Retired) and Group Captain V. Panwar, along with Group Captain R. Dubey, Squadron Leader Joshi (from the Indian Air Force) and Lieutenant Colonel R. Grewal and Lieutenant Colonel Pawan (from the Indian Army).

Representatives from certification authority witnessed the trials. The Initial Operational Clearance for basic LUH was accorded by Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) for IAF variant on Feb. 7 this year during the DefExpo 2020 at Lucknow in the presence of Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

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