The Indian military has signed a letter of intent to procure 12 indigenously-built light utility helicopters from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
According to a company source, production of the aircraft has begun, with two already in advanced stages of completion.
The acquisition for the Indian armed forces is part of a defense proposal signed and approved last year by the country’s Defence Acquisition Council.
Six light utility helicopters will be handed over to the army, while the other six will be used by the Indian Air Force.
HAL’s Light Utility Helicopter
HAL’s light utility helicopter is a new generation aircraft with the latest technologies, such as a glass cockpit with multi-function displays.
Powered by a single turboshaft engine, the helicopter has sufficient power for demanding high-altitude missions.
It can fly at 127 knots (230 kilometers/146 miles per hour), with a maximum range of 350 kilometers (217 miles).
It can also carry up to 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds) of payload.
The helicopter is designed to replace the Cheetah & Chetak helicopters in the Indian military inventory.
Investments in Helicopters
Last year, the Indian Air Force inducted a new light combat helicopter to support troops and deliver precision high-altitude strikes.
The attack helicopter is armed with air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, a 20-millimeter gun, and 70-millimeter rockets.
The service has also received its first batch of MH-60R Seahawk multi-role helicopters from the US for $2.12 billion.
The aircraft will perform various combat missions, including anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, and combat search and rescue.
Additionally, India signed an agreement with French firm Safran to develop high-performance engines for the Indian Multi-Role Helicopter.