HAL’s Light Combat Helicopter, an indigenous chopper that is being developed to cater to combat needs of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Army, has now caught the eye of African countries. According to a PTI report, India is in talks with “certain” countries in Africa for possible export of the LCH.
The interest is a shot in the arm for Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to scale up India’s defence exports. LCH is a 5.5-tonne class combat helicopter designed and developed by HAL. While the Army has placed an order for 114 with state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, the IAF has ordered 65. The helicopter is designed to carry out dedicated combat roles such as air defence, anti-tank, scout and support combat search /rescue missions.
We take a look at the salient features, combat power & trials’ status of the made-in-India combat chopper that has export potential:
Features: The LCH’s features include sleek and narrow fuselage, tri-cycle crash worthy landing gear, crash worthy and self-sealing fuel tanks, armour protection, nuclear and low visibility. These, claims HAL, make the LCH lethal, agile and survivable.
It is powered by two Shakti engines and inherits many technical features of the Advanced Light Helicopter.
Weapons trials: The weapons trial of the LCH is planned in July-August this year. Recently it achieved the milestone of firing of rockets (70 mm) from its prototype, TD-3 in weaponized configuration.
Scaling heights: Designed for anti-tank and anti-infantry roles with a maximum speed of 275 kilometers per hour, the LCH is also capable of high-altitude warfare since its operational ceiling will be 16,000 to 18,000 feet.
The combat helicopter has already completed hot & cold weather along with altitude flight trials.
Shield & combat power: The helicopter would have day/night targeting systems for the crew including the helmet pointed sight and electro-optical pod consisting of CCD camera/FLIR/Laser Range Finder (LRF)/Laser Designator (LD).
The LCH is fitted with self protection suite consisting of radar/laser missile warning systems and Counter Measures Dispensing System (CMDS).
Development history: The first prototype helicopter had its inaugural flight on Mar 23, 2010. The second and third prototype had their first flight on June 28, 2011 and November 12, 2014. LCH TD4 completed its maiden flight on December 1, 2015. LCH has completed performance trials paving way for certification of basic configuration and a letter to this effect was handed over to HAL by CEMILAC in the presence of Defence Minister on October 16, 2015.