November 03, 2012: After months of displaying a mock-up at air shows and events, the bottom structure assembly of HAL's light utility helicopter (LUH) ground test vehicle is complete and has been taken down from the jig last month. According to HAL, "LUH assembly jigs are modular and gaugeless jigs, concurrently designed along with structure design using 3D CAD. There are five assembly jigs and a coupling jig enabling modular and concurrent build- up of the structure. The jigs are built and validated using state-of-the-art CAMS-Computer Aided Measurement System (laser tracker) to establish high accuracy and stability. The latest concept of jig design and build has resulted in smooth and flawless 'First off' structure build." HAL is currently deciding on an engine for the LUH between the Turbomeca Ardiden 1H1/Shakti and the LHTEC T-800.
The LUH will look to service a requirement of 184 helicopters for the three services to augment the 197 being procured through a global tender, currently perched precariously its final leg. The 197 copter bid, being contended by Eurocopter's AS550 C3 Fennec and the Russian Ka-226T Sergei is expected to see a decision soon.