An Update On India’s Helicopter Programmes

The delayed weaponised version of India’s ALH Dhruv helicopter, designated Dhruv-WSI will begin a fresh a final round of firing trials next month, starting with its 20-mm turret gun, followed by trials of its 70mm rockets and MBDA Mistral air-to-air missiles in November. Aiming for initial operational clearance (IOC) by December this year, deliveries of the production helicopters are set to happen before March 2012. The weapon systems are currently being ground tested in integrated configuration (IADS).

In October, the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) programme will begin its first off-base trials at sea-level, followed by off-based hot weather and cold weather trials at high altitude in Ladakh. Weapons trials will commence between the hot and cold weather trials. HAL aims to finish flight testing by February 2013. A third prototype/tech demonstrator TD-3 is under fabrication and will soon join the test programme. While no firm orders have yet been placed for the LCH, the IAF (primary customer) has confirmed a requirement of 65 units, while the Army has said it intends to order 114.

After freezing configuration in June 2009 and design in August last year, HAL is now in the process of identifying systems and equipment for its Light Utility Helicopter (LUH). The transmission and rotor system design has been completed, and is fully indigenous. 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. Apart from servicing a requirement of 187 helicopters from the Army and IAF, HAL expects to sell at least 100 to the civil market.

While the weaponised Dhruv and LCH will be manufactured in existing HAL facilities, greenfield production lines will be built for the LUH and medium-lift Indian Multirole Helicopter (IMRH). For the latter, design and development is yet to begin, as HAL hasn’t identified a technology/design partner yet.

Information from a new interview with P. Soundara Rajan, MD (Helo Complex), HAL, published in Vayu IV/2011

11 thoughts on “An Update On India’s Helicopter Programmes”

  1. Thanks for the update Shiv. Could you please post something about the Super 30 upgrade program of the SU 30s..It was much talked about in MAKS 2011..wish to know your POV.

  2. Shiv i want to ask you a question that why our goverment don't incourage atleast indian pvt sector in defence sector for r&d

    of missiels rifles arty guns fighter planes helecopters like USA,
    after knowing that we are srounded by hostile nations like pakistan and china how can these babus and netas be so visionless

  3. If i an not wrong, recently it was reported that "after failing to secure a DP HAL has decided to go alone for IMRH". What happened now, who are the probables, is HAL issuing new proposal?

    Besides, how long HAL is willing to wait? We see Navy importing helicopters in same class while IAF is ordering addition Mi-17Vs. Further delays is surely pushing situation similar to that exists in LUH program where even after working and developing a equally capable or better product HAL will have only half the share.

  4. The Indian Navy must order about 20-30 of these attack helos that will operate from its new LHD's. These attack helis will be of great help in operations similar to seen in Libya. After the strike aircraft from INS Vikramaditya has taken the majority of SAM's. The next wave can be helis of about 5-6 LCH's along with about 10 armed versions of ALH's that can form the next wave of assault to capture beachhead for safe landing of troops and equipment on enemy shores.

  5. Been closely following LCH program. Its an good example of our unique needs and indigenous R&D for unique solution. This is the path we must move further ahead on. Some people want us to instantly switch to indigenous but that simply isnt possible. Helicopters are being indigenised in utility, light combat and medium attack class but heavy will still be from US/Russia. One has to walk before running and progress in helicopters, if you are an realist, has been impressive.

  6. Nice…update..thnx…
    Is there any update on naval LCA, or LCA MK2
    the navel variant was suppose to have its first flight by now….is there another sick delay????

  7. Does anybody have any information as to the Electro-optical/ Infra Red Sensor pod on the LCH ? The pictures available to the public show a very primitive device compared to the some of the latest EO?IR sensors available from FLIR, L-3 or even Elbit.

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