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HAL’s Light Utility Helicopter successfully undertakes maiden flight
November 17, 2017
The first Light Utility Helicopter prototype. Photo credit: Hindustan Aeronautics Limited

HAL’s Light Utility Helicopter successfully undertakes maiden flight

Yesterday, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)’s Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) successfully undertook its maiden test flight in Bengaluru.

According to HAL’s official press release, the LUH flew for 15 minutes. HAL termed the test flight as “flawless.”

HAL is hopeful that the LUH will – in addition to replacing India’s fleet of Chetak utility helicopters – “capture a sizable share both in [the] domestic and international market.”

The LUH weighs 3,150 kg and is powered by a Safran Ardiden 1U turboshaft engine capable of producing 750 KW in power. The LUH has a stated range of 350 km and a service ceiling of 6,500 metres. It can carry up to six passengers as well as two pilots.

Notes, Comments & Analysis:

The LUH is the third in HAL’s line-up of helicopters and joins the Dhruv and Light Combat Helicopter (LCH). This should round-out India’s light and light-to-medium helicopter line.

Notwithstanding an influx of a large number of comparable imports from the U.S., Europe or Russia, the HAL LUH should be able to benefit from India’s domestic scale. Alongside competitive material and labour costs, the scale will enable HAL to offer the LUH at an internationally competitive price point.

The LUH’s international success will be conditional on the Indian government’s commitment to growing India’s high-value manufactures exports. While not exclusive to HAL or the LUH, policies such as the offer of $500 million U.S. in credit to Vietnam will help India secure lucrative markets. In fact, the market need not be limited to defence, the light utility design can be marketed towards civilian users as well.

However, one will need to observe India’s lightweight helicopter tender. The requirement for 197 light utility helicopters for the Army and Air Force will be open for competition, and it is expected that foreign vendors – along with their local Indian private sector partners – will compete. While a foreign winner will result in sizable work for the Indian economy, it may hamper the marketability of the LUH.

  • little children

    it can also be used as rescue helicopter….

    • MT

      Dhruv cost 5-6 mill$ so LUH shall cost in range of 3@4 mill$
      Indian state govt can use such helicopters for maoist,naxalite operation in deep forest.

      Air ambulance and tourism into kashmir,ladakh and other mountain ranges shall also be promoted

    • Headstrong

      True. HAL’s programmes – ALH, LUH and LCH – are all proceeding well. What is lacking is a robust naval helicopter programme. ALH can be weaponised for sea, but I’ve heard that an ASW version is still on the drawing board. If that can be achieved, it would truly be fantastic

      • little children

        problem is the rate of production of these helicopter is very slow( 5 units per year).
        HAL should increase the production rate to atleast 25-30 per year to quickly meet indian requirment and then export these helis

  • MT

    LUH and Light combat helicopters make up among cheapest heli in their categories.
    Hal future lies in outsourcing model where they focus on r$d, sub assembly and product integration while pvt sector does most work.
    Going forward,the quality of Hal product is improving as we see top notch quality control from indian pvt sector producing most components

    Hal must invest in medium sized helicopter’s along side development of ASW naval version for LCH but current priority should be on mass scale production of LUH & LCH which finished user trial.

    india needs 500-1000 light utility helicopters over next decade across military &;civilian aviation

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