Hindustan Aeronautics to make light utility, medium lift copters

December 23rd, 2008 - 7:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Dec 23 (IANS) India’s defence behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) plans to manufacture light utility and medium lift helicopters for the Indian Army, air force and navy, a top official said here Tuesday.”We have already started preliminary work to design, develop and produce indigenous light utility helicopters (LUH) and medium lift helicopters for the three services,” HAL chairman Ashok Baweja told reporters on the sidelines of a function.

The state-run HAL is already scouting for a foreign partner for both the projects, and hopes to finalise the collaboration at the upcoming air show Aero-India 2009 in mid-February. HAL plans to deliver the copters from 2015 onwards in batches.

The LUH and medium-lift copters are intended to replace the ageing Chetak and Cheetah helicopters in use by the army as well as the air force.

The defence production department has placed an order for the supply of 187 LUHs for the Indian army and Indian Air Force (IAF). This order is in addition to the 197 LUHs the two services plan to buy from a foreign supplier, which will eventually collaborate with HAL for joint production of the copters indigenously.

It may be recalled that the defence ministry had scaled down its global tender for the purchase of light helicopters from 384 to 197 in April at an estimated cost of $1.6 billion (Rs.79 billion), with the remaining 187 to be built by HAL under licensed technology transfer.

The request for proposals (RFP) was issued in July to Italy’s Agusta/Westland, Bell Helicopter of the US, Eurocopter, and the Russian Kamov and Sikorsky.

Earlier, an Indian Army tender for 197 Eurocopter Fennec helicopters was scrapped in January due to discrepancies in the evaluation process.

“We are also looking for a foreign partner for collaboration to manufacture medium lift copters in 10-15 tonne class for the Indian navy, which is looking for an alternative to the advanced light helicopter (Dhruv),” Baweja said at the HAL formation day, celebrated by its 16,000 employees with their families.

The medium lift copters are intended to be used for combat, and search and rescue missions.

HAL also plans to hardsell this type of copter to the Indian Coast Guard in the light of heightened security concerns in Indian waters.

Earlier, Baweja, special invitees from the services and the aerospace industry witnessed a flying display of HAL aircraft and copters such as ALH, Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT), Hawk, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and Surya Kiran formation sub-sonic aircraft.

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