IAF to induct ‘Made in India’ light combat helicopter (LCH) in October


In a major boost to ‘Make in India’ in defence, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is going to induct the indigenous light combat helicopter (LCH) at Jodhpur on October 3.

The new chopper getting inducted into the force is capable of aerial combat and will help the force combat slow-moving aircraft, drones and armoured columns during conflicts.

The induction ceremony will be led by Defence minister Rajnath Singh who has played a crucial role in progressing cases for buying indigenous platforms for forces.

LCH is on its maiden flight at the HAL Airport, Bangalore.

The helicopter manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is suited to perform the roles of Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), Destruction of Enemy Air Defence (DEAD), Counter Insurgency (CI) operations, taking on slow-moving aircraft, and Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAs), high altitude bunker busting operations.

LCH has a narrow fuselage because of the tandem cockpit configuration for the pilot and co-pilot gunner. It has several stealth features, armour protection, night attack capability and crash-worthy landing gear for better survivability. LCH is a 5.5-tonne class combat helicopter designed and developed by the Defence public sector undertaking Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).

It is also an effective asset to counter slow-moving aircraft and Remotely-Piloted Aircraft (RPAs) and can be deployed in high-altitude bunker busting operations, and counter-insurgency operations both in the jungle and urban environments. It can effectively support ground forces in various combat scenarios.

IAF to induct ‘Made in India’ light combat helicopter (LCH) in October

Army Technology information indicates that this LCH made by HAL has a maximum takeoff weight of 5,500kg. It has a 2,600kg cargo capacity. The RWS-300 radar warning sensor, MAW-300 missile approach warning sensor, and LWS-310 laser warning sensor are all installed on the helicopter.

Up to eight Helina (Helicopter-launched Nag missiles) anti-tank guided missiles, four French MBDA Mistral short-range air-to-air missiles, or four rocket pods for 68mm/70mm rockets can be carried on its stub wings.

The automated cannon of this LCH can fire 750 rounds per minute across a useful range of 2,000 metres. Such features make it a formidable attack helicopter.

Army Technology information indicates that this LCH made by HAL has a maximum takeoff weight of 5,500kg. It has a 2,600kg cargo capacity.

Two HAL/ Turbomeca Ardiden 1H1 (Shakti) turboshaft engines power the HAL LCH. A maximum continuous power output of 1,067kW is claimed. Its 20-mm turret guns, mounted on its nose can rotate 110 degrees.

It also has self-sealing fuel tanks and bulletproof windshields, along with built-in crashworthiness of bottom structures, crew seats, fuel tanks, and landing gear. It is equipped with infrared suppression systems and flare and chaff dispensers.

Out of the 15, the Indian Air Force will get 10, and the Indian Army 5. The LCH is a dedicated combat helicopter designed and developed indigenously for the first time in India. It can land and take off from an altitude of 5,000 metres with weapons and fuel, the officials said.

The choppers have been flown extensively in Ladakh and the desert sector to meet the requirements of the armed forces.

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The IAF has inducted multiple helicopters to its fleet in the last three-four years with the induction of the Chinooks, Apache attack helicopters and now the LCHs. The IAF is now also deploying women pilots in Chinook choppers carrying routine supply missions to the northern and eastern borders.

The defence ministry says that 45% of the value of LCH is made in India, and that number will rise over time to more than 55%. IAF and the army are expected to need a total of 160 LCHs, so HAL is likely to get more orders.

The helicopter will be deployed near the Pakistan border in Rajasthan in its first adventure.

LCH is on the government’s “positive indigenisation list,” which aims to ban the import of different types of weapons, systems, and ammunition over the next five to seven years to increase self-reliance in defence. In the last two years, the government has banned the import of 310 defence items by putting them on three different lists.

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IAF has recently gotten 22 American heavy-duty Apache attack helicopters which are loaded with Hellfire and Stinger missiles. Apart from that we also employ the Russian Mi-17 V5 equipped with Israeli NLOS (non-line of sight) missiles.