BANGALORE, India, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. said it will unveil the long-awaited weaponized version of its Rudra advanced light helicopter at Aero India 2013 next month.
The army will get its first indigenously built Rudra choppers, powered by twin Shakti engines, before the end of the government's fiscal year March 31, HAL Chairman R.K. Tyagi told The Times of India newspaper.
"The combat capability of ALH is enhanced with an electronic warfare suite and counter-measure devices such as flares and chaffs dispensers," Tyagi said.
"Sighting systems such as electro-optical pod and helmet-pointing systems have been integrated to augment target aiming capabilities."
The Rudra uses an integrated architecture display system with multifunction displays for the pilot and has weapons such as a 20mm turreted gun, 70mm rockets and air-to-air missiles.
The Rudra -- one of the names of Lord Shiva considered by Hindus as destroyer of enemies -- will be used for airborne assault, logistics support, reconnaissance, casualty evacuation and, thanks to thermal imaging functions, antitank warfare.
The helicopter is based on the utility helicopter Dhruv, also built by HAL in Bangalore.
The Dhruv entered service in 2002 and around 160 are believed to have been ordered by the army and navy, a Press Trust of India report in 2011.
The Dhruv project was announced in 1984 when HAL began designing the aircraft with assistance from the German aerospace company Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm.
The Dhruv helicopter carries up to 12 passenger and two pilots sitting side by side, with a maximum takeoff weight of 12,125 pounds. Maximum speed of 180 mph is from two Shakti turboshaft engines or two Turbomeca TM 333-2B2 turboshaft engines. Service ceiling is around 27,500 feet.
Also to be shown at Aero India 201, and to the public for the first time, will be the Pilatus IAF PC-7 MkII basic trainer, Pilatus Aircraft officials told the Daily News and Analysis website.
"Deliveries and handover of the first aircraft to the air force will commence in Q1 2013," the official is quoted as saying. "Instructor pilots have already completed their aircraft conversion course in Switzerland (where the aircraft are built) with technician training to be carried out in early 2013."
The Pilatus is a direct replacement for the turboprop HPT-32. India has ordered 75 Swiss Pilatus PC-7 MK II aircraft for around $520 million, a report by NDTV television station said.
Until 2009, every pilot -- fighter, transport and helicopter -- started training in the Hindustan Piston Trainer but the HPT-32 was grounded in 2009 after a series of crashes.
Cadets now start straight into operating the Kiran Mk-1, an intermediate jet trainer.
But the two-seat Kiran, which was introduced in 1968, will complete its lifespan by 2015 and will have to be decommissioned, the NDTV report said.
Aero India 2013 will be at Yelahanka Air Force Station, near Bangalore Feb. 6-10.
The last Aero India exhibition, in 2011, had 675 exhibiting companies, of which 380 were from 29 countries.