An Update On India's Helicopter Programmes

The delayed weaponised version of India's ALH Dhruv helicopter, designated Dhruv-WSI will begin a fresh a final round of firing trials next month, starting with its 20-mm turret gun, followed by trials of its 70mm rockets and MBDA Mistral air-to-air missiles in November. Aiming for initial operational clearance (IOC) by December this year, deliveries of the production helicopters are set to happen before March 2012. The weapon systems are currently being ground tested in integrated configuration (IADS).

In October, the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) programme will begin its first off-base trials at sea-level, followed by off-based hot weather and cold weather trials at high altitude in Ladakh. Weapons trials will commence between the hot and cold weather trials. HAL aims to finish flight testing by February 2013. A third prototype/tech demonstrator TD-3 is under fabrication and will soon join the test programme. While no firm orders have yet been placed for the LCH, the IAF (primary customer) has confirmed a requirement of 65 units, while the Army has said it intends to order 114.

After freezing configuration in June 2009 and design in August last year, HAL is now in the process of identifying systems and equipment for its Light Utility Helicopter (LUH). The transmission and rotor system design has been completed, and is fully indigenous. Raising of assembly jigs and fixtures is currently in progress. One ground test vehicle (GTV) and three prototypes of the LUH are planned, with a first prototype flight in 2012 and initial operational clearance by 2014. Apart from servicing a requirement of 187 helicopters from the Army and IAF, HAL expects to sell at least 100 to the civil market.

While the weaponised Dhruv and LCH will be manufactured in existing HAL facilities, greenfield production lines will be built for the LUH and medium-lift Indian Multirole Helicopter (IMRH). For the latter, design and development is yet to begin, as HAL hasn't identified a technology/design partner yet.

Information from a new interview with P. Soundara Rajan, MD (Helo Complex), HAL, published in Vayu IV/2011
Follow @livefistFollow @ShivAroor

Labels: , , , , ,