Light helicopter manufacturing to begin soon by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited
HAL has decided to manufacture lightweight helicopters capable of operating at higher altitudes which plays a vital role in maintaining troops through the year following a spike in border deployments.
The indigenous light utility helicopter (LUH), which has performed well in recent trials in Ladakh as well, will initially be produced in limited numbers before a larger order is placed for the Army and Air Force.
These choppers are likely to be cheaper than foreign ones and are also likely to beat the Indo-Russian venture for Ka 226 helicopters on pricing as well. While the commercial bids for the Ka 226 are yet to be opened and issues around indigenisation levels are being discussed, the plan to manufacture at least 200 of the choppers in India is expected to cost under $2 billion.
The Indian chopper is also expected to cost less as no transfer of technology costs are involved and it would have a very high indigenous content as most parts will be sourced from domestic companies.
HAL has also been scaling up its production infrastructure with a new plant in Tumkur that has significantly enhanced capacity. “With the Tumkur plant, we can now manufacture up to 60 helicopters per year. Including current capacity, we can do up to 90 choppers per year if the requirement is there and orders are placed,” HAL said.