Rudra, the weapon system integrated (Wintertree Software Inc.) version of Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) MK-IV, and the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) began their flight validation exercises ahead of Aero India. In an interview with Express on Saturday, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd’s (HAL) Chief Test Pilot Wg Cdr (retd) Unni Pillai said that both choppers are in fine form and ready for the thrillers.
He said Rudra will be HAL star performer during the show, with LCH leaving no effort to match up to the big brother. “This air show is special because we are handing over two Rudras to the Army Aviation. Like last year, one LCH will have special camouflaged painting and put on duty at the static display area,” Unni said.
HAL is also gearing up for an in-house event on Sunday, where the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) officially will give the green signal to Rudra in the form an Initial Operational Clearance (IOC). “Rudra is a marvel and we have cleared all systems and weapons. The Army can now fly Rudra for all support roles during frontline operations. It is definitely a significant moment for the Indian military programme,” CEMILAC CEO Dr K Tamil Mani said.
Barring the air-to-ground (A-2-G) missile, of which the services are yet to finalise, Rudra has a mix of weapons already cleared. An air-to-air Mistral missile (MBDA, France) with 10 km range, 20 mm cannon (Nexter, France) and 700-mm rockets (Belgium make) form Rudra’s killer menu. “The Helina, which was initially meant for Rudra as a A-2-G missile, is currently undergoing changes at DRDO facilities in Hyderabad. It will then be tested on ground and later onboard, before the services accepts it. We are confident that Helina will make it finally to Rudra,” Mani said.
HAL chairman R K Tyagi felt that Rudra will give the much-needed brand identity to the company during Aero India. “The Dhruv programme has gone through good and bad phases. Ultimately what emerges as a product matters and Rudra is the answer. It has one of the world’s finest features embedded onboard and we will be exhibiting it at the show. The IOC is a morale boost to team HAL,” Tyagi said.