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Army version of HAL’s Light Utility Helicopter completes trials in Himalayas

Amidst high tensions along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, a new war bird for the Army is ready for operational clearance.

The Army version of the Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) developed indigenously by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited demonstrated its high altitude capability in hot and high weather conditions in the Himalayas over a period of 10 days in the region Indian and Chinese troops are engaged in protracted stand-off.

A comprehensive test plan was executed at Leh, 3,300 metres above sea level, in temperatures up to ISA+320C, which included envelope expansion, performance and flying qualities.

LUH took off from Leh and demonstrated its hot and high hover performance at Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO), the world’s highest Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) situated at an altitude of 5,000 metres.

The helicopter also demonstrated its payload capability in Siachen Glacier.

During the trials, pilots also landed the helicopter at some of the world’s highest helipads like Amar and Sonam.

“HAL has once again proved its indigenous capability in design and development. The Army version of LUH is now ready for Initial Operational Clearance,” R Madhavan, Cgsirman-cum-managing director, HAL, said.

Arup Chatterjee, Director (Engineering and R&D), HAL, said that the performance of the helicopter and its systems are satisfactory, fulfilling the requirements of the users. All planned tests were successfully demonstrated.

The flights were carried out by a composite trial team which included pilots from HAL, Wg Cdr Unni Pillai, the chief test pilot (rotary wing), Wg Cdr Anil Bhambani, Gp Capt Pupinder Singh and Gp Capt V Panwar along with Gp Capt R Dubey and Sq Ldr Joshi from the Indian Air Force and Lt Col R Grewal and Lt Col Pawan from the Indian Army.

Representatives from the airworthiness certification authority also witnessed the trials. The Initial Operational Clearance for the basic LUH had been accorded by CEMILAC for the IAF variant on February 7, 2020 during DefExpo 2020 at Lucknow.

The single-engined LUH is designed to replace the aging French origin Chetak and Cheetah helicopters in Army and Air Force service. The LUH can accommodate two credit members and six passengers and reach altitudes up to 6,600 meters.