HAL LUH / Ka-226: News and Discussions

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India's Light Utility Helicopter granted initial operational clearance | Jane's 360
India's Light Utility Helicopter granted initial operational clearance

Rahul Bedi, New Delhi - Jane's Defence Weekly
07 February 2020
India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has been granted initial operational clearance (IOC) for its Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), meaning that the company will now begin series-production of the single-engined platform.

Military officials told Jane’s that the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) in Bangalore granted the IOC for the indigenously developed LUH following rigorous testing.

HAL said in a 7 February statement that three LUH prototypes had “cumulatively completed” over 550 test flights in diverse climatic conditions, including cold, hot, and humid weather, but did not provide a timeline.

The company stated that the LUH’s “endurance and reliability” were further established after the platform flew for 7,000 km over 17 days from Bangalore to undertake “hot weather and high-altitude trials [in western and northern India] without any abnormalities”.
 
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In 18 Months, HAL’s Sharp Light Utility Helicopter Will Be Ready

By Shiv Aroor
Feb 16 2020, 2:30 pm
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In 18 months, India’s most crucial helicopter program will be complete. HAL’s Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) has entered a vital phase of trials that will now see it speed towards service readiness by September next year. HAL’s rotorcraft test team is hunkering down to ensure that the tough deadline doesn’t slip even a little. Amidst a slew of other helicopter development programs, the LUH is seen even within HAL as crucial owing to the sheer scope of deployment of helicopters of this type in the Indian armed forces. If all goes on laid down timelines, HAL hopes to see MoD paperwork begin on an initial order of 187 LUHs by mid-2021, ahead of the FOC milestone.

An internally funded HAL program, the LUH made its first flight in September 2016, and achieved initial operational clearance earlier this month. To achieve IOC, three airframes of the LUH have demonstrated the following test points: performance and handling qualities over various terrain — sea level, hot weather, hot and high, cold weather — in all specified all-up weights of 2, 4 and 3.12 tonnes. The last few tests before IOC were among the most delicate and important — height-velocity tests and engine cutoff trials that would see the helicopter tested during emergency failures near ground. Further refinements of these tests will take place this year. Livefist has accessed the first videos of this crucial set of tests:


In September last year, the LUH demonstrated one of its key performance requirements — the ability to operate at very high altitudes with meaningful loads. Livefist has reported on those high-altitude tests at Ladakh’s Daulat Beg Oldie in detail.

The performance and handling trials across terrains also involved a detailed evaluation of all systems. Other tests cleared towards IOC include demonstration of 3.4 tonnes all-up weight at sea level, a slope landing demonstration at high altitude, a single hydraulic system failure, lifting tests of all components, break-away fuselage tests, 30 minutes of dry run of the main gear box. These were topped off with detailed cockpit evaluations throughout.

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After a successful showing at the DefExpo 2020 show in Lucknow, the LUH team has dived back into test for a busy year ahead. Over the next ten months, the test crew will look to demonstrate engine relighting in air at Bengaluru and bring in pilots from the Indian Air Force and Army for the first full user trials of the helicopter. Armed forces pilots will test-fly the LUH both in Bengaluru and in Ladakh, getting their first full feel of a platform they will come in large numbers to replace the old Chetak and Cheetah fleet. The test schedule this year also includes zero speed auto rotation flights in Bengaluru and mission role evaluation trials.

In January, the LUH completed a long schedule of night flying trials successfully. The test team will be conducting more night flights in other terrain, including at high altitude in the upcoming phase.

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A member of HAL’s LUH team tells Livefist, “Three prototypes are being flight tested and each of them has logged around 200 flights till date. Apart from this, one airframe was built exclusively to test the ultimate loading conditions at the ground test centre at the Rotary Wing Research & Design Centre (RWR&DC) in Bengaluru. All critical loading were tested and the airframe was found to be safe upto 3g loadings.”

The LUH will meet roughly half the requirement of about 400 light utility helicopters in the IAF and Army, with the other half to be met by the Russian Kamov Ka-226T that will be built in Tumkur near Bengaluru by Indo-Russian Helicopters Ltd (IRHL) an HAL-Rostec joint venture. Stalled for months over disagreements over localisation of production, the two sides sought to find a way through the stalemate earlier this month at the DefExpo 2020 show where they signed an event roadmap towards localisation of the Ka-226T production.

In a statement, Russian Helicopters said, ‘The document defines the main stages and terms for organizing production of the Ka-226T helicopter and its units in India with respect to the date when the corresponding contract will be signed. In particular, the roadmap reflects timelines for setting up production in India, contracting with suppliers, transferring design documentation, supplying technological equipment and machine kits, training Indian personnel and other key stages of the project to localize production of the Ka-226T helicopter in India.’

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The Ka-226T, incidentally, is also a contender for the Indian Navy’s separate quest for 111 naval utility helicopters (NUH) to replace its own fleet of Chetaks. Technical bids for the helicopters were in last year, with field evaluations set to take place this year.

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We’ll have detailed reports on HAL’s other helicopter programs shortly — the Light Combat Helicopter and the Indian Multirole Helicopter.

In 18 Months, HAL’s Sharp Light Utility Helicopter Will Be Ready
 
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HAL to bring the LUH into the civilian market

Posted on February 21, 2020
by KP Sanjeev Kumar
1582359909934.png

HAL’s Light Utility Helicopter has received initial operational clearance for military use, but the aircraft may also find a home in the civilian sector. HAL Photo.

The Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) of India received initial operational clearance (IOC) on Feb. 7, 2020, during the DefExpo at Lucknow, India. This paves the way for the integration of mission equipment and series production of the helicopter.

And while the single-engine LUH is getting set for its military debut, highly-placed sources at HAL indicate the company plans to position the LUH for civil applications, too.

The LUH is HAL’s latest rotary product after the light twin Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and Light Combat Helicopter (LCH). The three-ton helicopter incorporates a glass cockpit, dual controls and a single Safran Ardiden 1U1 turboshaft engine. As of January 2020, three LUH prototypes have logged over 550 flights under various environmental conditions.

The Indian forces’ requirement to operate from sea level to helipads at over 20,000 feet imposes unique challenges on rotorcraft. Successive models of light helicopters from HAL’s stable have targeted such requirements through collaboration and in-house development.

The LUH forms part of the Indian army and air force’s long-standing need for 394 light helicopters to replace ageing Cheetahs (Lama) and Chetaks (Alouette III). Of these, 187 would be the LUH (126 for the army & 61 for the air force). The remainder of the aircraft are expected to arrive through an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for 197 Ka-226T helicopters, to be manufactured by Indo-Russian Helicopters Limited (IRHL) – a HAL-Russian Helicopters joint venture company.

But the military market may just be the beginning of the LUH’s penetration in India. A video shared on Twitter quotes Unni Pillai, HAL’s chief test pilot, as saying “it (LUH) is a military aircraft right now, but it’ll be in the civil variant soon.”

The statement, made during the DefExpo, has been corroborated by senior HAL officials. Coming soon after IOC, it indicates HAL’s willingness to engage with civil customers, possibly eyeing a market outside the armed forces.

A senior member of the LUH design team, who asked for their name to be withheld, said HAL is expecting to deliver over 600 LUHs within the civil sector. The customers would be Indian “to start with,” and the target sectors are tourism, air ambulance, and utility, while the six to seven-seater aircraft can also be configured as a four-seater VIP helicopter.

“Civil certification is being progressed concurrently,” the source said, adding that the Indian regulator, DGCA, has been looped in throughout the military certification process.

“HAL aims to meet all civil certification requirements within next 4-5 years,” they added. “EASA [European Aviation Safety Agency] certification is expected to take another eight months from receipt of civil certification from DGCA.”

Large parts of hilly terrain in north and northeast India are currently serviced by single engine helicopters like the Bell 407 and Airbus Helicopters AS350 B3. If the indigenous LUH achieves civil certification and proves itself, it may offer a competing product to Indian operators in the heli-tourism and commuter roles.

HAL’s civil-certified ALH flies in limited numbers in India. Non-military customers of the ALH are limited to the Border Security Force (BSF), Pawan Hans Limited (PHL) and a few other government agencies, totalling just four to five helicopters.

There are about 350 civil helicopters flying in India today, and HAL’s plans to tap the civil market with LUH, however tentative, could mark a new chapter in Indian aerospace. The LUH will face stiff competition from proven products that Indian customers have been operating for years, with a need to prove a competitive operating cost and availability rate with these established types. HAL officials quoted their recent self-deployment of 7,000 kilometres over 17 days for ‘hot and high’ trials to reiterate that the LUH’s “reliability is proven.” After 200 to 250 hours of flight and servicing that followed, they found the three main components – gearbox, engine and rotors to be in “very good” condition.

A senior member of the LUH design team said they are targeting “over 90 percent aircraft serviceability,” having done away with the problematic Integrated Dynamic System that plagued the ALH since inception. The “two-segmented blade” adopted for the first time on the LUH rotor system offers a compact folded dimension, easy transportability and interchangeability, he said. This technology is planned to be ported on the ALH in due course, as per HAL.

HAL to bring the LUH into the civilian market - Vertical Magazine
 
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Another much-needed project is also being readied for the DAC. This is for the production of 200 Russian Ka-226 helicopters to be manufactured jointly by Hindustan Aeronautics and the Russians. Of the 200, 135 will go to the Army and the remaining 65, to the Indian Air Force. This deal has been in the making for a long while and the helicopters will be replacements for the aging Cheetah and Chetak choppers. The decision to have HAL as a joint venture partner was taken by the Russians.

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Army has asked for one more LUH high altitude trials. IAF already cleared LUH certification.

Price negotiation has been concluded for LCH. Initial order of 15 helicopters will be concluded by year-end.

-- HAL Chairman
 
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Army has asked for one more LUH high altitude trials. IAF already cleared LUH certification.

Price negotiation has been concluded for LCH. Initial order of 15 helicopters will be concluded by year-end.
By certification do we mean IOC or FOC of LUH?
 

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Final Stretch At World’s Highest Battlefield For Light Utility Helicopter

By Shiv Aroor
Jun 15 2020, 6:30 pm
GAG_5149B-1536x903.jpg


This August, a pair of HAL Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) prototypes will head to the Siachen glacier for a final capability demonstration to the Indian Army. The two prototypes will provide finishing touches to what has been a highly successful proving exercise to the Army, which plans to induct at least 126 LUH to replace its Cheetah and Chetak helicopters.

The Indian Air Force, which plans to induct at least 60 LUH, is already convinced — certification with the IAF was completed recently. With the final high altitude trials in August with the Army, the LUH will be ready in all respects for operational service, a process that will kick off next year.

The final stretch is good news in ways not immediately visible. These may be simple helicopters, but they’re more urgently needed than any other type at this time. The helicopters that the LUH will replace — the Cheetahs and Chetaks — form the core of aerial logistics to India’s forward areas at forbidding high altitudes. Both of those types, of French vintage and license produced for decades by HAL, have been up for replacement for years. The LUH itself was borne from repeated past attempts at procuring replacements for the in-service helicopters.

The new LUH update broke in an exclusive Livefist interview with HAL’s chairman. You can watch that full video at Livefist’s YouTube channel, here.

The August trials at the super-high altitude terrain in the Himalayas will be the second such test of the LUH. In September last year, an LUH went through trials at Ladakh’s Daulat Beg Oldie, the world’s highest landing ground.

The LUH achieved initial operational clearance (IOC) in February, with FOC planned for next year, by which time paperwork on inductions will have begun. Both the IAF and Army have expressed confidence in starting procurement procedures, a sign that the LUH has established early maturity. Most work towards FOC will focus on systems and automatic flight control system (AFCS) work until the services issue their requests for quotation (RFQ) with firm requirements.

With a high rate of production planned, LUHs will be churned out from HAL’s Bengaluru rotorcraft facility to replace in-service Chetak and Cheetah helicopters that form a crucial logistical element in India’s high altitude deployments.

GAG_8763-1.jpg


Meanwhile, a splendid set of photographs (by HAL rotorwing designer Gagan Deep Singh) of the 3 LUH prototypes flying in formation on June 13 in Bengaluru has underscored the high energy coursing through this crucial program as it enters the final stretch. The formation was a farewell gift to the LUH program’s chief designer M.A. Quraishi (above) who retires at the end of this month. (Text continues after the photographs)

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While the LUH speeds towards final capability, the program it shares space with has ground to a halt, with no forward movement for three years now. The HAL-Russian Helicopters joint venture to manufacture the Kamov Ka-226T light helicopter in Tumakuru near Bengaluru is ‘overdue’, HAL’s chairman R. Madhavan tells Livefist, with negotiations stuck on the level of indigenous content in the helicopters. HAL has insisted on a minimum of 70% indigenous content.

It is with the MoD to take a final decision. Everything as far as the technical evaluation is complete. There are a couple of things regarding indigenous content. It will move forward. After that there will be price bid opening, and we are all prepared for that. It will be through a joint venture company. We have been waiting, it’s actually overdue,” HAL chairman R. Madhavan told Livefist.

CXYOAlJUQAA_PZP.jpg


Given the urgency of the requirement for these helicopters, it is with a sense of alarm that the armed forces are regarding the stalled program. It was nearly five years ago, in December 2015, that HAL and Russia had tied up and decided to manufacture the Ka-226T. Even accounting for procedure, the fact that not a piece of metal has been cut towards a Ka-226T airframe is telling.

The Ka-226T and HAL’s LUH will each supply approximately half of the a total requirement of 384 helicopters for the Indian Army and IAF.

 

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Final Stretch At World’s Highest Battlefield For Light Utility Helicopter

By Shiv Aroor
Jun 15 2020, 6:30 pm
View attachment 16455

This August, a pair of HAL Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) prototypes will head to the Siachen glacier for a final capability demonstration to the Indian Army. The two prototypes will provide finishing touches to what has been a highly successful proving exercise to the Army, which plans to induct at least 126 LUH to replace its Cheetah and Chetak helicopters.

The Indian Air Force, which plans to induct at least 60 LUH, is already convinced — certification with the IAF was completed recently. With the final high altitude trials in August with the Army, the LUH will be ready in all respects for operational service, a process that will kick off next year.

The final stretch is good news in ways not immediately visible. These may be simple helicopters, but they’re more urgently needed than any other type at this time. The helicopters that the LUH will replace — the Cheetahs and Chetaks — form the core of aerial logistics to India’s forward areas at forbidding high altitudes. Both of those types, of French vintage and license produced for decades by HAL, have been up for replacement for years. The LUH itself was borne from repeated past attempts at procuring replacements for the in-service helicopters.

The new LUH update broke in an exclusive Livefist interview with HAL’s chairman. You can watch that full video at Livefist’s YouTube channel, here.

The August trials at the super-high altitude terrain in the Himalayas will be the second such test of the LUH. In September last year, an LUH went through trials at Ladakh’s Daulat Beg Oldie, the world’s highest landing ground.

The LUH achieved initial operational clearance (IOC) in February, with FOC planned for next year, by which time paperwork on inductions will have begun. Both the IAF and Army have expressed confidence in starting procurement procedures, a sign that the LUH has established early maturity. Most work towards FOC will focus on systems and automatic flight control system (AFCS) work until the services issue their requests for quotation (RFQ) with firm requirements.

With a high rate of production planned, LUHs will be churned out from HAL’s Bengaluru rotorcraft facility to replace in-service Chetak and Cheetah helicopters that form a crucial logistical element in India’s high altitude deployments.

View attachment 16457

Meanwhile, a splendid set of photographs (by HAL rotorwing designer Gagan Deep Singh) of the 3 LUH prototypes flying in formation on June 13 in Bengaluru has underscored the high energy coursing through this crucial program as it enters the final stretch. The formation was a farewell gift to the LUH program’s chief designer M.A. Quraishi (above) who retires at the end of this month. (Text continues after the photographs)

View attachment 16456
View attachment 16454

While the LUH speeds towards final capability, the program it shares space with has ground to a halt, with no forward movement for three years now. The HAL-Russian Helicopters joint venture to manufacture the Kamov Ka-226T light helicopter in Tumakuru near Bengaluru is ‘overdue’, HAL’s chairman R. Madhavan tells Livefist, with negotiations stuck on the level of indigenous content in the helicopters. HAL has insisted on a minimum of 70% indigenous content.

It is with the MoD to take a final decision. Everything as far as the technical evaluation is complete. There are a couple of things regarding indigenous content. It will move forward. After that there will be price bid opening, and we are all prepared for that. It will be through a joint venture company. We have been waiting, it’s actually overdue,” HAL chairman R. Madhavan told Livefist.

View attachment 16458

Given the urgency of the requirement for these helicopters, it is with a sense of alarm that the armed forces are regarding the stalled program. It was nearly five years ago, in December 2015, that HAL and Russia had tied up and decided to manufacture the Ka-226T. Even accounting for procedure, the fact that not a piece of metal has been cut towards a Ka-226T airframe is telling.

The Ka-226T and HAL’s LUH will each supply approximately half of the a total requirement of 384 helicopters for the Indian Army and IAF.

God speed to indefinite delays and failure to Ka226T JV.