HAL's Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), under development to meet a requirement of at least 187 light reconnaissance and utility rotorcraft for the Indian Air Force and Indian Army is all set for its first flight in August. An internal target of July has been set for the sole current prototype at HAL's Helicopter Division to lift off in July, though sources confirm that August is likely to be when it will happen. The LUH prototype (two more will be built for the flight test programme) has been in a routine of ground testing for weeks now. The LUH mock-up on display at Aero India this year is in Indian Army colours, and has been a source of interest for quite a few foreign delegations at the show this year. Quick news points:
- The first LUH prototype will fly in August, officially kickstarting flight test.
- HAL aims for final operational clearance in 2017, and begin deliveries to the Indian Army and IAF by the end of that year.
- The LUH sports a new jointed foldable rotor system (see photo), designed and built in-house
- to meet the Indian Navy's deck requirements. Significantly, the rotor will be made available on future Dhruv ALH constructions and re-offered to the Indian Navy.
- For a proposed naval version, HAL says it will offer a wheeled version of the LUH.
- The LUH cockpit is almost entirely an Indian glass cockpit, with components and systems sources completely from the Indian private sector, and mission computer software modified from the Dhruv's.