Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has selected L-3 Aviation Products’ (L-3 AP) tactical airborne navigation system, TACAN+, for its new light utility helicopter (LUH) programme.

The LUH programme aims to address the reconnaissance and utility rotorcraft requirements of the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF).

L-3 Aviation Products and Security president Kris Ganase said: "This award, coupled with the recent opening of our new manufacturing, repair and overhaul facility in Bengaluru, India, reflects L-3’s commitment to supporting the evolving and dynamic needs of military and commercial aviation customers and business partners in the region."

HAL chairman and managing director Suvarna Raju said: "Our selection of the TACAN+ underscores L-3’s ability to develop and support industry-leading tactical avionics equipment that optimises operational efficiencies through the reduction of size, weight, and power requirements."

The TACAN+ transceiver is a small and light tactical airborne navigation system designed to track up to four ground stations simultaneously in range, and two in bearing, at a speed of up to 1,800k.

"The TACAN+ underscores L-3’s ability to develop and support industry-leading tactical avionics equipment."

Developed for installation on rotary and fixed-wing platforms, the system can be used for air-to-air and air-to-ground operations. It employs software controlled antenna switching, enabling the aircraft to be configured for dual antennas if needed.

The system can be used as a pilot-controlled positioning system or as a blind navigation sensor system, and has been tested to MIL-STD-810G, MIL-STD-704 and MIL-461E, as well as meeting DO-160F helicopter vibration levels.

The LUH programme covers development of a 3t, single-engine helicopter, scheduled to replace the Indian Army and Air Force’s fleet of ageing Cheetah and Chetak helicopters.

Designated as the PT-1, the first LUH prototype is scheduled to start test flights later this year, with an initial operational clearance anticipated in 2017.

Manufacturing work will be carried out at HAL’s facility near Bengaluru, while deliveries are anticipated to commence by the end of 2017. HAL hopes to produce nearly 50 helicopters annually.