NEW DELHI: State-owned defence equipment manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) on Friday got department of defence research and development’s (DRDO’s) initial clearance for its light utility helicopter (LUH), paving the way for its production. LUH will replace the ageing fleet of Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, HAL said.

LUH is a single engine, light weight, highly agile 3-ton utility helicopter, indigenously designed and developed to meet the operational requirements of Indian Army and the Indian Air Force.

As of now, three prototypes have been built and cumulatively completed over 550 flights under various terrains and climatic conditions.

Arup Chatterjee, Director, Engineering & R&D, HAL, said the performance of basic configuration of LUH in all terrains and under all weather conditions was satisfactory and HAL will towards the next phase of integrating and flight testing of mission role equipment on LUH.

Meanwhile, 14 memorandum of understanding were signed between Indian and Russian firms -- at the 5th round of India-Russia Military Industrial Conference that took place at DefExpo in Lucknow-- providing for joint production of spare parts of a number of military platforms and weapon systems. The Indian government is targeting $5 billion worth of defence exports by 2024.