New Delhi: Defence Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) will manufacture four light utility helicopters (LUHs) under limited series production by 2022-23, Rajya Sabha was told.
Responding to a query, Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt, said that another eight LUHs will be built by 2023-24. Out of the initial quota of four choppers, two each will go to the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force while the two forces will get four LUHs each from the second batch of the limited series production, he said.
”This would be followed by the manufacture of series production (SP) of the helicopters by the HAL,” Bhatt said.
Earlier this month, the defence ministry approved the procurement of 12 LUH from the HAL for around Rs 1,500 crore.
The LUH is designed and developed as a replacement for ageing fleets of Cheetah and Chetak helicopters being operated by the armed forces. Indigenously-developed LUH is a new generation helicopter in the 3-tonne category that has state-of-the-art technology features like a glass cockpit with multi-function displays (MFD) and is powered by a single turbo shaft engine.
To a question on the Kaveri fighter jet engine program, Bhatt said it has achieved a ”higher technology readiness level (TRL) in many critical technology domains”. He said nine full prototype engines and four core engines were built, adding 3,217 hours of engine testing was conducted, and ”completed altitude tests and flying test bed (FTB) trials” were carried out. ”This is the first time that an indigenously developed military gas turbine engine was flight tested,” he added. The minister said a total of Rs 2105 crore was allocated for the program out of the Rs 2035 crore being spent.
The Kaveri engine project was given approval by the Cabinet Committee on Security in 1989. The project was primarily rolled out for India’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) program.
”At present, the TEJAS is integrated with an imported engine. However, in future, it is proposed to develop indigenous engines for powering our own aircraft such as TEJAS variants and AMCA (Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft) in association with an international engine house,” Bhatt said. He said the technological capabilities built through the Kaveri engine project will be utilised.
The minister said the Kaveri engine in the present architecture cannot be integrated into the TEJAS. ”TEJAS, Flight Operational Clearance (FOC) configuration demands higher thrust than the intended engine requirement. Hence the Kaveri in the present architecture cannot be integrated. In order to induct with TEJAS, a modified engine version is required,” he said.