HAL’s light utility helicopter lands at World’s highest airfield

The Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited achieved an important milestone as part of high altitude cold weather trials when it successfully landed and took off from Daulat Beg Oldie, the world’s highest airfield, situated at a height of 16,700 feet in eastern Ladakh, where the temperature plummets as low as minus 55°C in winters in the area.

Daulat Beg Oldie airstrip holds immense strategic importance for India in the crucial axis in central Asia. Located at an altitude of at 16614 feet (5065 meters), DBO is an important Army forward area post which was built during the Indo-China conflict in 1962.

The helicopter exhibited satisfactory performance and handling qualities and Demonstration of operations from DBO was a critical requirement towards the certification of LUH.

The LUH is a 3-ton class new generation helicopter designed and developed by the HAL’s Rotary Wing Research and Design Center (RWR&DC). The LUH is to built for the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force to replace the aging fleet of Cheetah and Chetak helicopters. In n principal, HAL has orders for 187 LUHs that includes 126 for the Indian Army and 61 for IAF.

According to HAL, the LUH “will be capable of flying at 220 kilometres per hour, with a service ceiling of 6.5 kilometres and a range of 350 kilometres with a 400-kilogramme payload… The helicopter, with a glass cockpit, can be deployed for reconnaissance and surveillance roles and as a light transport helicopter”.