There are currently 160 Cheetah helicopters and 4 Chetak helicopters in service with the Indian Army and Air Force, both of which were first introduced in the 1970s. They’re outdated now and need to be replaced. Light Utility Helicopter, or LUH, from HAL, will replace them.
The most recent event is the purchase of 12 Light Utility Helicopters. However, talks are underway to acquire 11 additional Apache AH-64E attack helicopters from the United States. A total of 111 LUH and 95 Prachand attack helicopters are being considered for purchase by the Indian Army.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is developing the Light Utility Helicopter for both commercial and military use. The helicopter made its maiden voyage in 2016 and made its public debut in 2020.
In the 3-ton class, the LUH is a highly agile new-generation light helicopter.
Crash-worthy seats for up to six passengers and two pilots will be standard on the LUH, and the aircraft can carry up to a tonne of cargo under its wings.
LUH is powered by a single 750 KW rated Shakti-1U turboshaft engine derived from Safran Ardiden, co-developed by HAL and Turbomeca. According to HAL, it possesses a cruise speed of 235 km/h, a maximum speed of 260 km/h, a service ceiling of up to 6.5 km, a range of 350 km with a maximum take-off weight of 3.12 tonne, and an empty weight of 1.91 tonnes.
The helicopter supports a dual-channel Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) and a backup fuel control system. The LUH will have a glass cockpit featuring a Smart Cockpit Display System (SCDS) and a skid-based landing gear arrangement. LUH is the only helicopter in the 3-ton class to have foldable rotors.
The Light Utility Helicopters’ missions include:
- Providing EMS (emergency medical services).
- Transporting troops.
- Performing utility tasks.
- Searching for and retrieving lost or injured people.
- Transporting VIPs.
- Conducting aerial reconnaissance.
There have reportedly been orders for 12 LUHs, with six going to the Army and six going to the Air Force. Similar replacement plans include the Indian Coast Guard’s aging Chetak fleet.