ALH and LUH developed by HAL
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s (HAL) Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) has received Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) for the Indian Army from the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at the Aero India Event. After undergoing rigorous trials, it has been stated that the helicopter’s performance in all terrains and under all weather conditions is satisfactory.
Indigenously designed and developed by Rotary Wing Research and Design Centre of HAL, LUH is a 3-ton class new generation single-engine helicopter with features suitable for operations in the diverse conditions unique to India. It is powered by a single turboshaft engine Ardiden 1U from M/s Safran Helicopter Engine, France, with adequate power margins to accomplish high altitude missions in the Himalayas at ease. LUH is equipped with a Smart Cockpit Display System (Glass Cockpit), state of the art HUMS (Health and Usage Monitoring System), and is designed for various utility and armed roles. It will replace the aging fleet of Cheetah and Chetak helicopters.
HAL delivered 3 out of 16 Mk-III Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) to the Indian Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh at Aero India. Also, HAL handed over 2 ALHs to the Indian Coast Guard. In its 3,00,000 cumulative flight hours, ALH has proved its mettle in versatile operations. The fully loaded multi-mission helicopter is fitted with an array of advanced sensors customized for coastal security. The ALHs shall supplement its aging and depleting fleet of Alouettes (Chetaks) from HAL. Mark-III features a full glass cockpit with HAL’s Integrated Architecture Display System (IADS), more powerful ‘Shakti’ (Safran Ardiden 1H1) engines. Navy Chief asserted that littoral nations’ cooperative efforts could help achieve security and growth for all in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
IAF and HAL develop an e-portal
Indian Air Force (IAF) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) have operationalized an e-portal as a part of an Inter-organizational information sharing system during Aero India 2021. This will optimize long term sustenance planning and reduce repair and overhaul cycle time. A smooth, Safe, and Secure methods of data transfer will be facilitated between the two organizations. Availability of spares to the IAF will be enhanced along with an increase in efficiency with productivity. This portal will also reduce the time for finalization tasking and budgetary quotation processes. The customer-centric portal would help in leveraging the benefits of information sharing in real-time.
AMCA parts enter production
As per Girish Deodhare, Director of Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), certain parts required for 1st AMCA have entered production, and roll-out of its 1st prototype would happen in 2024. The aircraft has been designed to match or supersede many of the 5th Generation Aircraft to enhance its stealth capacity. AMCA will have a vehicle health monitoring system to reduce downtime and have a higher operational availability rate. A special coating for the Glass Cockpit section has been developed to reduce its radar reflection, and internal weapons bay design has been realized on the ground.
It was also confirmed that AMCA Mk-2 that will enter production in 2034-35 would be an optionally manned platform that will also be tested with 5.5th AMCA Mk-2. With this, the aircraft would take off and land autonomously in dangerous missions over hostile airspace. The aircraft can operate with and without a pilot. Still, in the latter condition, the ability to strike a target would be left to an external pilot, monitoring the aircraft from the ground with satellite links with manual override function. 40 AMCA Mk1 powered by GE-F414IN engine will enter production in 2030-31, and 100+ Mk2 will enter production in 2034-35.
Three more aircraft in line after Tejas
Officials involved in the designing of LCA Tejas have stated that its core technology will act as a catalyst for several other lined projects. Three new fighter jets, of which two will be for the Indian Air Force and 1 for the Indian Navy, will be flying by 2026. First will be LCA Mk-2 that will be rolled out by the end of 2023. This fleet will be replacing the Mirage 2000 type of aircraft. It is much bigger, with 6.5 tonnes of payload carrying capacity. The 123 Mk1 and Mk1A aircraft will be replacing the MiG-21 class; it is light, small aircraft, very maneuverable, mainly to guard our boundaries with 3.5 tonnes payload carrying capacity.
These will be followed by Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), which is 5th generation, whereas LCA is 4.5th generation. AMCA has been designed for stealth with a range from over 1000 km to 3000 km in different modes.
AMCA Mk1 and LCA Mk-2 will have imported engines, whereas AMCA Mk-2 will have a powerful indigenous engine. The third new fighter jet, Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) for the Navy’s aircraft carrier, will be flying by 2026. Aircraft carriers are a very high-value asset, and designing aircraft for these is very challenging. Indian Navy gave the go-ahead for TEDBF in May 2020 after trials.