India’s Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) has granted Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) for the Indian Army’s variant of the Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) Light Utility Helicopter (LUH).
CEMILAC issued the IOC for the army variant of the LUH on February 5 – during the third day of the Aero India trade show and exhibition, held at Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bengaluru. This milestone comes after the indigenously-designed helicopter completed a series of ground and flight test campaigns. During these, the platform was subjected to ground test endurance runs and system testing, along with trials in hot and cold weather conditions, at sea level, and in hot and high altitudes.
In a press release, the Indian government’s Press Information Bureau (PIB) quoted Shri Arup Chatterjee, the director of engineering and R&D at HAL, as saying that the LUH’s performance in all terrains and weather conditions is satisfactory. “HAL is currently in the phase of integrating and flight testing mission role equipment on [the] LUH. HAL is fully geared up to fulfil the requirements of the customers in [a] time bound manner,” the release added.
The LUH is described by HAL as a new generation, single-engine helicopter in the three-tonne category of rotorcraft. It has been designed to replace India’s ageing fleets of HAL-produced Cheetah/Chetak helicopters across all three services.
The platform is fully equipped with a glass cockpit, a health and usage monitoring system (HUMS) and is designed to fulfil various armed and utility roles across the Indian military. The platform is powered by a single Ardiden 1U turboshaft engine from Safran Helicopter Engines, which the PIB states gives it “adequate power margins to accomplish high altitude missions in [the] Himalayas with ease.”