India’s twice-bid reconnaissance and surveillance helicopter (RSH) competition has been delayed again. An oversight committee is now scrutinizing the latest bids to inquire into allegations of improper conduct by an army officer during flight trials of the finalists. The Kamov Ka-226T and Eurocopter AS550C3 Fennec are competing for an Army and Air Force requirement for 197 helicopters.
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.
Neelam Mathews and Vladimir Karnozov contributed to this report.
Helicopters were much in the news at the Aero India show this week. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) showed the armed version of its advanced light helicopter (ALH) called “Rudra.” The company’s light combat helicopter (LCH) was also on show, and so was an armed Mil-17V5. The Indian Navy’s new multi-role helicopter (MRH) requirement also attracted attention.
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) is expected to unveil an armed variant of its Rudra advanced light helicopter (ALH) at the Aero India show this week. The helicopter will be in the flying display along with the HAL Light Combat Helicopter.
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.
Few coompanies can lay claim to having as many as 10 aircraft planned or under development simultaneously, but India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) is doing just that. However, while the Bangalore-based group’s ambitions may be laudable, it remains to be seen how it will face the formidable challenges of its current and planned projects.
Russia-based operator UTair last week received a certificate of conformity to Eurocopter training standards, thus becoming the first Eurocopter training center in which the manufacturer is not a shareholder. UTair is now approved for type-rating training of pilots and mechanics on AS350 and AS355 Squirrel light helicopters under Eurocopter programs.
Bangalore, India-based Helicopter Academy to Train by Simulation of Flying, a CAE-Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) training joint venture, received a simulator cockpit for the civil Dhruv light twin in February. It is now being integrated with an existing mission simulator and should be ready for training in May.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has an ambitious plan to design, develop and manufacture 1,500 helicopters in next 10 years. According to a senior HAL official, "100 of those will be advanced light helicopters (ALH), 300 will be light utility helicopters (LUH) and the rest will be multi-role helicopters (MRH)." HAL will invest $4.4 billion to modernize and expand its capacity to execute current orders worth $22 billion.
HAL on March 29 made the first flight of its light combat helicopter (LCH) prototype, conducting hover tests for around 15 minutes at Bangalore, India. At the controls were group captain Unni Pillai and group captain Hari Nair. Ground runs began in early February.
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