Hindustan Aeronautics Limited's (HAL) new light utility helicopter (LUH) has conducted its first technical flight in the Indian city of Bengaluru.
Carried out by HAL test pilots, the flight that lasted for 15 minutes marks an important and significant beginning for prototype testing of LUH.
The indigenously developed LUH will replace the ageing fleet of Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, which are currently in service with the Indian Air Force.
The LUH is expected to achieve a sizeable share in both domestic and international market, HAL said in a statement.
It is said to be the third indigenous helicopter product from HAL after programmes such as advanced light helicopter and light combat helicopter.
Powered by a Safran HE Ardiden-1U engine of 750Kw power, the LUH has a range of 350km, service ceiling 6.5km.
The helicopter has a maximum all-up-weight (AUW) of 3,150kg and can accommodate eight people in total, including two pilots.
It can be used for various missions such as reconnaissance, transport, cargo load and rescue operations. According to the company, the helicopter can operate from sea level to high-altitudes.
The Indian Armed Forces would need up to 400 LUHs for use in surveillance, reconnaissance, quick response, special operations and evacuations, The Hindu reported.
Of them, 187 would be ordered from HAL for Army and Air Force.
Image: The indigenously developed LUH. Photo: courtesy of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.