HAL Light Utility Helicopter mock up at Aero India 2011. Photo Copyright © Vijainder K Thakur
HAL is developing a light utility helicopter to compete in an upcoming 187-helicopter tender to meet requirements projected by the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force. The company also expects to sell at least 100 helicopters in the civil market.
HAL has completed preliminary design studies into a 3t helicopter with a range of up to 500km (270nm) and a 500kg (1,100lb) payload.
The first example should fly by 2015.
While a majority of the components for the helicopter will be made locally, the engine, avionics fit, electrics and actuators/hydraulics will be sourced from abroad.
In March 2010, a senior HAL official told Flight magazine:
"We have gained a lot of experience and learnt a lot over the years manufacturing the Cheetah and Chetak, and then developing the Dhruv [advanced light helicopter]. There will be some degree of commonality in terms of systems with Dhruv and the LCH [light combat helicopter], but this will otherwise be a new helicopter."
4 Bladed composite hingeless main rotor.
4 Bladed composite bearingless tail rotor.
Glass Cockpit and Active Vibration Control System (AVCS).
In February, 2010 HAL floated a tender inviting bids from reputed TurboShaft Engine Manufacturers world over who would like to offer their engine along with associated instrumentation for integration on Light Utility Helicopter (LUH).
HAL wants an engine with an output of 1,000kW, and 550kW at 6,000m altitude.
The company has projected a requirement for 210 engines and wants two flight certified engines delivered for testing and prototype development by December 2011.
HAL wants to enter into a long term partnership with the vendor and have the option to license produce the engine if required.
HAL QRS stipulate a 200 kg dry weight for the engine including FADEC, backup controls and accessories; tropicalised to operate in the temperature range of -35°C to 50°C and a service ceiling of 7000m.
Exploratory negotiations for procuring the engine are underway with Pratt & Whitney, Honeywell and Turbomeca, with a decision due in ‘the coming months'.
Turbomeca is pushing HAL hard to adopt the Turbomeca-HAL Shakti engine that powers the Dhruv and LCH.
In early September 2011, HAL opened technical bids from Turbomeca for its Shakti engine (1032 kW) and Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Company (LHTEC), a joint venture of Rolls-Royce and Honeywell, for the T800 engine ( (1,166 kW).
The T800 engine was primarily developed for the United States Army's RAH-66 Comanche armed reconnaissance helicopter, but has been used on several helicopters.
HAL displayed a mock-up of its LUH design at Aero India 2011.
In a press release dated April 1, 2013, HAL announced that the LUH has gone past the design phase with successful realization of the Ground Test Vehicle.
In August 2011, Vayu magazine reported that the design of the transmission and rotor system has been completed. Raising of assembly jigs and fixtures is currently in progress.
One ground test vehicle (GTV) and three prototypes of the LUH are planned, with a first prototype flight in 2012 and initial operational clearance by 2014.