Indian light helicopter requirements remain subject to a bureaucratic procurement process. The program to acquire 197 reconnaissance and surveillance helicopters (RSH) is close to being scrapped, but Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) has inked a contract for 187 light utility helicopters (LUH). HAL is also proposing the LUH for a new Indian Navy requirement. Meanwhile, HAL continues to develop its light combat helicopter (LCH), which first flew in March 2010.
Eurocopter UH-72 Lakota
As India’s Ministry of Defense awaits a response from the Italian government on alleged irregularities in the award of a contract for 12 AgustaWestland AW101 VIP transport helicopters, the fallout from this affair may scupper the much larger reconnaissance and surveillance helicopter (RSH) program. The Eurocopter AS550C3 Fennec and Kamov Ka-226T are the final contenders for the 197-aircraft RSH program, which has already been delayed.
Three contenders for the U.S. Army’s as-yet-undefined armed aerial scout (AAS) requirement–Bell Helicopter, Boeing and EADS North America–have just completed a series of flight demonstrations for Army evaluators who are studying alternatives to the aging OH-58D Kiowa Warrior for manned reconnaissance. They reported the results at the Association of the U.S.
India may abandon plans to procure 197 light utility helicopter (LUHs) from abroad for the Indian air force (64) and army (133). Such a decision would favor government-owned defense manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL), which is developing its own LUH design based on the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH). The government was already planning to order an additional 187 light utility helicopters to be produced under license by HAL. It is not clear what the time frame for delivery would be, as HAL would need to expand its current production facility, requiring government approval.