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Indian Air Chief Takes First-Hand Look at Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) Program

Indian Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, Chief of the Air Staff, undertook his maiden flight in HAL-designed and -developed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) here today. The aircraft took to the skies at 11.45 hours and remained airborne for an hour. The CAS was accompanied by HAL’s Deputy Chief Test Pilot, Wg Cdr (Retd) S P John. Mr. R Madhavan, CMD, HAL, thanked the Air Chief and said that HAL is geared up for productionisation of LCH to meet all the requirements of the Air Force.

While thanking all stakeholders of the LCH project, the Air Chief said “It was a very good sortie. I was able to look at the important flying characteristics and status of sensors already installed. The LCH is a potent platform due to excellent D&D efforts and well supported flight test team. The IAF is keenly looking forward to the induction of this aircraft and I am sure HAL will give required focus on productionisation at a fast pace”.

The HAL Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) is an Indian multi-role αttαck  helicopter designed and manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It is the world’s lightest αttαck helicopter and its flight ceiling is the highest among all αttαck helicopters. It has been ordered for both the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army. The LCH drew extensively on an earlier indigenous helicopter developed and manufactured by HAL, the Dhruv; using this rotorcraft as a starting point has been attributed as significantly reducing the cost of the programme.

The LCH is furnished with a glass cockpit which accommodates an Integrated Avionics and Display System (IADS) which used an array of multifunction displays in conjunction with the onboard target acquisition and designation (TADS) system. The LCH is protected via an extensive electronic ωɑɾʄɑɾε suite which is provided by the South African division of Saab Group; this suite comprises various defensive elements to guard against several different threats, these include a radar warning receiver (RWR), laser warning receiver (LWR) and a missile approach warning (MAW) system.

The LCH is equipped with an integrated data link, which enables the type to participate in network-centric operations by facilitating the transfer of mission data to other platforms, comprising both airborne and ground-based elements.The onboard sensor suite is Elbit CoMPASS, produced locally by Bharat Electronics Limited. It consists of a CCD camera, a forward looking infrared (FLIR) imaging sensor, a laser rangefinder and a laser designator to facilitate target acquisition under all-weather conditions, including under nighttime conditions.

During 2006, it was announced that HAL had selected the M621 cannon to serve as the gun armament of the helicopter. The M621 cannon is incorporated in a Nexter-built THL 20 turret and integrated into a helmet-mounted sight. Various missiles can also be equipped upon the LCH; these include a maximum of four 70 mm anti-tank guided missiles – options are to include both foreign and Indian-built missiles, the latter in the form of the Helina anti-tank missile. In terms of air-to-air missiles, the LCH shall be capable of being armed with the MBDA Mistral 2 missile.