December 1, 2022
Light Combat Helicopter: Know What is Light Combat Helicopter

Light Combat Helicopter: The indigenous Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) capable of destroying enemy air defences, counter insurgency strikes and much more has now joined the Indian Air Force. According to its makers, the LCH is the only attack helicopter in the world that can take off and take off at an altitude of 5,000 meters with a considerable load of weapons and fuel, meeting the specific requirements set by the Indian Armed Forces.

kargil war

The need for a domestic Light Assault Helicopter was felt for the first time during the Kargil War of 1999 which could carry out precision strikes in all Indian battlefield scenarios. This means a helicopter that can operate in very hot deserts and very cold high altitude areas and in counter-insurgency operations.

India is operating the Chetak and Cheetah of French origin helicopters of less than 3 ton class manufactured indigenously by HAL. These are single engine machines primarily called utility helicopters. The Indian Army also operates the “Lancer”, an armed version of the Cheetah. In addition, the Air Force operates the Russian-origin Mi-17 and its variants Mi 17 Vi1 and Mi-17 V5, which have a maximum weight of 13 tonnes. These are to be phased out from 2028 onwards.

The Air Force needed a more agile, multi-role dedicated attack helicopter. After initial deliberations, the government approved the LCH project in October 2006 and HAL was tasked to develop it. HAL’s Rotary Wing Research and Development Centre, which had already worked on the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) “Dhruv” and its weaponized variant “Rudra”, took up the project.

The LCH is designed as a 5.8-tonne class dual-engine dedicated combat helicopter. Thus it is classified as a light helicopter. It has seating for the pilot and co-pilot. The co-pilot also serves as a Weapon Systems Operator. It also has many more state-of-the-art systems that make it a dedicated attack helicopter.

In a visit to the LCA by the Air Force and the Army, extensive flight tests have been conducted on four prototypes, also known as technology demonstrators.

The first technology demonstration was completed in February 2010 and it made its maiden flight on 29 March of the same year. The TD-2 prototype was completed around 2012, and it successfully passed high altitude cold weather tests. The TD-3 and TD-4 prototypes were completed around 2014 and 2015.

HAL officials have said that the flight test was conducted at various altitudes from sea level to the Siachen range, in extreme cold and hot weather conditions and in desert areas. During these tests, mission sensors such as electro-optical systems, helmet-mounted display systems, solid state data and video recorders, and weapon systems such as turret guns, rockets and air-to-air missile systems were integrated. The trial of firing of weapons was also completed. The four prototypes together have undergone more than 2,000 flights with 1600 flight hours.

Initial operational clearance came in 2017 for the Air Force variant and in 2019 for the Army variant. In August 2020, the Defense Ministry added LCH to items under import restrictions. In November 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi symbolically handed over the LCH to the Indian Air Force, paving the way for its induction into the Air Force fleet.

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