Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) has unveiled details of a study for a light observation helicopter (LOH) design under way for the Indian forces. The 3t-class aircraft, which will have a maximum payload of 1,500kg (3,300lb) and a design ceiling of around 19,000ft (5,800m), will be in a similar class to the Eurocopter EC135.

The ability to operate at high altitude would allow the helicopter to supply Indian armed services based in the Karakoram mountains along the disputed line of control with Pakistan. HAL-built Chetak light helicopters are now used and the new Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) has also been designed by the Indian aerospace company for the same mission.

Although similar in shape to the ALH, the new study envisages a helicopter that will be primarily of composite structure and have a bearingless main rotor and fenestron shrouded tail rotor - all new features for an Indian-designed helicopter.

The LOH is also envisaged as featuring a glass cockpit, and health and usage monitoring system (HUMS), and will share some of the instrumentation and systems developed for the ALH. No decision has been made on whether the LOH will be single or twin engined, although the latter is thought more likely. The LOH may be built entirely indigenously, unlike the ALH, which was designed with assistance from Eurocopter Germany.

LOH features may be applied retrospectively to the ALH, including higher use of composites in the airframe. HAL is studying ways to reduce the ALH's weight.

Source: Flight International