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Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has undertaken significant improvements to the auto-pilot system of its 3-ton Light Utility Helicopter (LUH). Fresh trials are underway to showcase these enhancements, to secure orders from the Indian Army and Indian Air Force. HAL has already received a Letter of Intent from the services for the production of 12 LUHs, a homegrown helicopter designed and developed in India.

The Indian Army has plans to procure a substantial order of 110 LUHs, pending a comprehensive evaluation of the initial six versions of HAL’s light utility chopper that the Army is set to receive. It is expected that bulk orders for LUHs will be placed in 2024, paving the way for deliveries commencing in 2026.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Asia’s largest helicopter manufacturing facility in Karnataka, which will initially focus on producing LUHs for the Indian Army and Indian Air Force.

The HAL Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) is a highly agile new-generation light helicopter in the 3-tonne class. It boasts a maximum speed of 260 km/h and a range of 350 km. This advanced helicopter is poised to replace the ageing fleets of Cheetah and Chetak helicopters in service with both the Indian Army and Indian Air Force.

HAL anticipates combined orders for at least 187 light helicopters in the coming years, as the Cheetah and Chetak helicopters currently play a critical role in supporting troops in high-altitude regions, including the challenging terrain of the Siachen glacier. The upgrades to the auto-pilot system will further enhance the LUH’s performance, making it a valuable addition to India’s military aviation capabilities.

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