Hindustan Aeronautics has unveiled a mock-up of its indigenous light utility helicopter, which was given the go-ahead in February 2009 as a partial replacement for the Indian Air Force and Indian Army HAL Cheetah and Chetak fleets.
The first prototype will be built in 2012, with the first flight scheduled for 2013. This is a "100% indigenous development", says Prasad Sampath, general manager of HAL's rotary wing research and design centre.
"The defence ministry is giving us the funding and certain milestones have to be satisfied before we go ahead. Today, the design has been frozen and we are embarking on the detailed design phase," he adds.
An engine has not been selected, but the company is studying options from Turbomeca, Pratt & Whitney, Honeywell and HAL's indigenous Shakti powerplant. A decision will be made in the coming months, says Sampath.
The Indian state-owned aerospace company is scheduled to manufacture 187 of these three-tonne helicopters. New Delhi will buy another 197 helicopters through an international tender, and is assessing the AgustaWestland AW119, Eurocopter AS550C3 Fennec and the Kamov Ka-226.
HAL says that the LUH will have a length of 11.5m, height of 3.4m, rotor diameter of 11.6m, and airframe width of 1.6m. It will have a maximum take-off weight of 3.12t and an empty weight of 1.91t.
The single turboshaft engine will have dual channel FADEC and backup fuel control. The helicopter will have a cruise speed of 235kmh, maximum speed of 260kmh, service ceiling of up to 6.5km, and a range of 350km.
There will be a glass cockpit with smart cockpit display system (SCDS), and skid landing gear. The fuselage will be able to accommodate two pilots and six passengers, and feature crashworthy seats.
It will be able to undertake emergency medical services, troop transport, VVIP, reconnaissance and surveillance missions, and be able to carry external cargo of up to 1t.