The Coast Guard will set up a committee comprising all stakeholders, including Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), that will define the qualitative requirements of a maritime single-engine helicopter for replacing its Chetak fleet, it said in a statement. It is evaluating the capabilities of the indigenous Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) in meeting the maritime challenges and serving as a Chetak replacement.
On Tuesday, the Coast Guard received the last of 16 Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH)-MKIII from HAL contracted under a deal in March 2017 for a maritime role.
“We are proud to be associated with HAL and happy to issue a Letter of Intent for nine more helicopters. Despite COVID-19, HAL delivered all the helicopters in the shortest time with seamless production activities and this allows us to strengthen India’s maritime security”, said Director General Coast Guard V. S. Pathania at the formal ceremony in Bengaluru.
Chairman and Managing Director, HAL, C.B. Ananthakrishnan said a unique feature of the contract has been the Performance Based Logistics, the one-stop solution for the maintenance of these helicopters by HAL. “This will serve as a benchmark for all our future contracts and boost our resolve to work with private partners to speed up the work in the interest of all our customers and strengthen Make-in-India activities in the defence eco-system”, he added.
HAL has so far produced more than 330 ALHs, a versatile helicopter which has logged more than 3.74 lakh flying hours.
LUH is a new generation helicopter in the 3-tonne class and incorporates state-of-the-art technology features like a glass cockpit with Multi-Function Displays and is powered by a single turbo shaft engine with sufficient power margin.
Mr. Pathania, a helicopter pilot himself, undertook a maiden sortie in the LUH prototype with Wg. Cdr. Anil Bhambani, test pilot HAL, to get a first-hand feel of the flying characteristics and advanced capabilities of the helicopter. “The sortie was aimed at gauging the capability of the helicopter vis-a-vis its viability in meeting the maritime challenges in exercise of the charter of duties,” the statement said.