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HAL chairman and managing director R. Madhavan has provided key updates into ongoing Indian helicopter programs, including HAL’s participation in India’s Naval Utility Helicopter (NUH) program.
NUH is the first experiment in a strategic partnership (SP) program rolled out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, with the aim of creating private sector capacity in major aerospace and defence manufacturing in India. HAL has offered the naval “Dhruv” Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) for the NUH program. Ship compatibility issues have thus far relegated the Dhruv to a largely shore-based role in the Navy, while the other two services reaped the benefits of newer variants.
In a recent interview with Livefist Defence, Madhavan confirmed HAL is “pushing the Dhruv in the NUH contract” with a couple of changes: blade folding and (tail) boom folding. “I can categorically say [the Dhruv] can meet all the [NUH] QRs,” Madhavan stated.
HAL’s joint venture partnership, Indo Russian Helicopters Limited (IRHL), has also offered the Russian light-twin Ka-226T for the light helicopter requirements of the Army and Air Force. Madhavan said that all technical evaluations of this project have been completed and they are now waiting for a final decision from the Indian defence ministry. HAL has earmarked land for setting up production facilities near Bengaluru, India for the Ka-226T. However, no orders are in sight.
HAL’s own 3-ton Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) achieved initial certification on Feb 7 this year. Three LUH prototypes have been built that have cumulatively completed over 550 flights. Madhavan pointed out that LUH certification for the Air Force is complete and another round of “hot and high” trials for the army is planned in August.