Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) announced on September 9 that its Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) had completed a series of hot and high altitude trials in the Himalayas over a ten-day period.
During testing, the domestically-developed rotorcraft expanded its flight envelope and flying qualities in Leh – a city in India’s Ladakh region. The helicopter then demonstrated its hot and high performance characteristics at Daulat Beg Oldi’s (DBO) Advanced Landing Ground (ALG), which is also in Ladakh. The DBO ALG is home to one of the world’s highest airstrips, based at an altitude of approximately 16,614ft (5,065m).
The LUH also demonstrated its high altitude payload capabilities at the Siachen Glacier in the eastern Karakoram range of the Himalayas. Test pilots also landed the helicopter on the Amar and Sonam helipads – which are the highest such landing sites on the Siachen Glacier.
According to the HAL press release, “the performance of the helicopter and its systems are satisfactory [for] fulfilling the requirements of the users. All planned tests were successfully demonstrated.”
Shri R Madhavan, the chairman and managing director of HAL, added that “the army version of the LUH is now ready for initial operational clearance.”
HAL has designed and developed the LUH to replace the Cheetah and Chetak helicopters operated by the Indian armed forces. It is described by the company as a new-generation three-tonne-class helicopter with a glass cockpit, multi-function displays and is powered by a single ARDIDEN-1U turboshaft engine. It will be capable of flying at speeds of up to 146mph (235km/h), has a ferry range of 310 miles (500km) and a service ceiling of 21,325ft (6,500m).