India will carry out the first flight of its indigenously developed light utility helicopter (LUH) within a week to test final software-related hurdle that had held up tests.
The first flight of 3.1 ton prototype LUH to replace the ageing Cheetah and Chetak fleets of the armed forces will take place within a few days, depending on the weather, Economic Times reported Friday quoting unnamed sources as saying.
"We are now ready to take the chopper in the air. All hurdles have been crossed and now it is only a matter of the right day when all conditions are good for a first flight," a senior official involved in the project told ET.
The certification issues in the software used in the helicopter held up the first flight after ground tests were concluded in 2015.
HAL plans to start manufacturing the choppers from 2018, after certifications and operational clearances are obtained. The chopper is powered by a Shakti engine made in collaboration with French company Turbomeca. A new production facility is to be built for the LUH project.
Besides troop transport, the choppers can be used for aerial reconnaissance and civilian purposes to meet domestic and export demand.
Turbomeca will be powering Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)s Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and Light Utility Helicopter(LUH) with Ardiden 1H1 and Ardiden 1U engine respectively. The new HAL designed Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), a three-ton single-engine aircraft, is still under development
The Indian Air Force has appealed to the Defense Ministry to hasten the light utility helicopters procurement, right after a newly acquired Mi-17 crashed last week during a rescue operation in the flood torn region of the Himalayas. The IAF has been trying to replace its aging Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, which are mostly used for logistics in the upper reaches of northern India
The Indian Ministry of Defense has awarded HAL a contract worth $55 million for the supply of 20 Cheetal helicopters and associated equipment to the Indian Army over the next four years. The announcement comes as the Indian Air Force is currently trying to procure 197 light helicopters over the past few years
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