Hindustan Aeronautics to fly light combat chopper soon

Bangalore, Nov 20 (Inditop.com) A prototype of the light combat helicopter (LCH), designed and developed by the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), is set for its maiden flight soon, a top company official said Friday.

“The prototype LCH is getting ready for a maiden test flight in the coming weeks. We are waiting for the final checks to be completed to commence flight trials,” HAL chairman and managing director Ashok Nayak told reporters here.

The 5.5-tonne LCH, a derivative of HAL’s advanced light helicopter (ALH) Dhruv, will be rolled out for anti-armour and anti-infantry roles by the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Army respectively.

Though the LCH was to take-off by August, HAL announced in September that the first flight would take place by this year-end or early January, as its overall weight had to be reduced by about 20 percent (580) kg.

“We have overcome the weight problem. The target weight will be achieved for a successful test flight,” a HAL copter division official told Inditop later.

HAL launched the LCH project in 2006 and developed the prototype at a cost of Rs.3.8 billion (Rs.380 crore).

LCH is expected to get the initial operational clearance (IOC) by December 2010 and the final operational clearance (FOC) in 2011 for induction into the IAF by 2012-2013.

On the joint venture with Russian aerospace major (Irkut Corporation) for the multi-role transport aircraft (MRTA), Nayak hoped an agreement to that effect would be signed during the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Moscow in early December.

“We hope the deal will take place this time so that we can jointly take up design and development of the MRTA for military and civilian use,” Nayak said at a function to mark 25 years of collaboration with the US-based technology major Honeywell International in manufacturing turboprop engine (TPE-331-5).

HAL plans to manufacture the 14-seater Saras aircraft, designed and developed by the state-run National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) here.

“We plan to make 30-35 multi-role light transport aircraft primarily for the civilian market,” Nayak added.

In view of the huge order book valued at Rs.60,000 crore (Rs.600 billion) and some big-ticket projects in offing, HAL plans to invest Rs.25,000 crore over the next 10 years for expanding its infrastructure and other facilities across the country.