India's Hindustan Aeronautics expects its 5.5t-class light combat helicopter to fly for the first time in February.

HAL had originally expected the LCH, which reuses many technologies developed for its in-service Dhruv advanced light helicopter, to fly in late 2008, but its schedule slipped after problems that included the supply of production tooling.

Company chairman Ashok Nayak says the prototype Dhruv has successfully completed ground testing and is ready to fly. The Indian armed forces could eventually buy more than 100 of the HAL/Turbomeca Shakti-engined aircraft, he believes.

The tandem-configuration helicopter will carry weapons including New Delhi's indigenous Nag anti-tank missile.

Source: Flight International