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Light combat helicopter to take off in 2008
June 19, 2007 23:09 IST
The light combat helicopter being developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the air force will make its first flight in October 2008, the Indian aviation major's chairman Ashok Baweja said in aris on Tuesday.The company is also working on obtaining airworthiness certification for the Dhruv in several countries, including Malaysia and Israel, as well as from the European Aviation Safety Agency. It also working with foreign partners, like Chile's ENAER, to set up maintenance and training facilities to support potential foreign sales, he said.
The components for the new helicopter, which will mostly be made of lightweight composites to enable it to operate at high altitudes, are currently being made and HAL plans to supply 65 helicopters to the Indian Air Force, Baweja told a press conference at the Paris Air Show.
The helicopter, which is based on HAL's existing Dhruv advanced light helicopter platform, will be equipped with helmet-mounted targeting systems, electronic warfare systems and advanced weapons systems.
It will be capable of operating at heights of up to 6,000 metres or 18,000 feet and will be powered by the Shakti engine developed by HAL and Turbomecca.
HAL is also contracted to supply 160 Dhruvs to the army and air force, including utility and armed variants, and is the race to sell six of the same helicopters to Chile and another two to Bolivia. It has also made a bid to supply the Dhruv to Turkey, where it recently exhibited the helicopter, Baweja said.
HAL, which has an order book of $10 billion, has completed upgrades of the Indian Air Force's Jaguar and MiG-27 jets and the navy's Sea Harriers and is in talks for refurbishing the Mirage 2000s.
Baweja also said the light combat aircraft programme was on schedule with the certification of the aircraft expected to be completed by 2010. The first eight to 10 LCAs would also be supplied to the IAF by then, he said.
Certification for the intermediate jet trainer was also on and the first squadron of the jets, currently powered by Larzac engines, would be supplied to the IAF next year. HAL will build 250 of the IJTs. The IJT will eventually be powered by the Saturn AL55I engine, which is now undergoing flight tests in Russia [Images].
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