HAL’s Light Combat helicopter becomes India’s 1st to carry out air-to-air attack firing Mistral missile

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New Delhi | Published: January 17, 2019 7:46:54 PM

According to HAL, LCH is the only attack helicopter in the world capable of operating at altitudes as high as Siachen glacier.

HAL, Light Combat helicopter, air to air attack, HAL, Mistral missile, ATAM Mistral, HAL Rudra helicopterThe helicopter is equipped with Helmet mounted sight and a forward looking infrared sighting system, LCH pilots can now detect and destroy any target on ground or in the air. (Photos provided by HAL)

The indigenously designed and developed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) by state owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., (HAL) achieved a unique milestone by successfully carrying out air to air missile firing on a moving aerial target.

Says R Madhavan, CMD, HAL, “This is the first time in the country that a helicopter has carried out air to air missile engagement. None of the helicopters with the military services in the country has demonstrated such a capability.”

With this, LCH has successfully completed all weapon integration tests and is ready for operational induction. Sources confirmed to the Financial Express Online that the missile fired was Mistral-2 ATAM (Air to Air Mistral) from French company MBDA. The ATAM Mistral is also integrated on “Rudra’’, the weaponised helicopter ‘Dhruv.’

Other weapons on LCH include a 20mm Turret gun and 70 mm Rockets, the firing trials of which have already been completed last year.

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Sources confirmed to Financial Express Online that HAL has responded to Request for Proposal (RfP) issued by the Indian Air Force for an anticipated order of 65 LCH and also for the Indian Army whose requirement is for 97 such machines. “Technical evaluation process is already going on.”

To a query on how the HAL is expected to fulfil these orders, the source mentioned above said that, “The state owned HAL has invested through internal funding and the production related activities are going on.”

According to HAL, LCH is the only attack helicopter in the world capable of operating at altitudes as high as Siachen glacier. It has been designed and developed by Rotary Wing Research & Design Centre (RWRDC) of HAL in response to the operational needs of Indian Armed Forces and its capabilities far exceed that of contemporary attack helicopters of its class.

The helicopter is equipped with Helmet mounted sight and a forward looking infrared sighting system, LCH pilots can now detect and destroy any target on ground or in the air.

Using these sights, pilots can now launch a missile onto any target without having to turn the helicopter. The fire and forget missile is effective against all types of aerial threat, including UAVs and micro light aircraft. Capable of operating from dispersed locations and flying at ultra low levels, LCH can now effectively provide a protective umbrella from all aerial threats.

During the tests conducted in integrated test range at Chandipur, Odisha recently, Wg Cdr Subash P John, VM (Retd), test pilot, Col Ranjit Chitale, (Retd), Flight Test Engineer from HAL and Gp Capt Rajeev Dubey, test pilot from IAF executed a flawless mission and achieved a direct hit on the aerial target, destroying it completely.

What is LCH?

– First helicopter that has successfully fired an air-to-air missile and intercepted a moving target.

– It has completed all weapon integration tests and is ready for operational induction.

– Is the only attack helicopter in the world capable of operating at altitudes as high as Siachen Glacier (in the Karakoram mountain range of the Himalayas).

– Helmet mounted sight and infrared sighting system incorporated on the machine make it easier for the pilots to detect and destroy any target on ground or in the air.

– With these sights, pilots can launch a missile onto any target without having to turn the helicopter.

– It is capable of operating from dispersed locations and flying at ultra-low levels.

– It can provide a protective umbrella from all aerial threats.

MISTRAL ATAM

According to the company website:

– MISTRAL ATAM is based on the MISTRAL missile with its fire-and-forget engagement mode

– Ease of operation and unrivalled kill probability

– The system is based on two launchers, each bearing two missiles and can be connected to the helicopter’s combat system

– It is characterised by simplicity of operation, a very low crew workload and a high level of performance

– The system can be operated within the whole flight envelope of the launch helicopter, at speeds of up to 200 knots and at altitudes exceeding 15,000 ft.

– MISTRAL ATAM ensures a large off-bore sight capability

– Has the ability to aim the missile seeker very precisely at a given target.

– The missile has a shaped trajectory in order to intercept targets top-down or at long range, the crew can also select the proximity fuze mode.

– It is being operated by the French Army Aviation on the Gazelle and is also in service on the Tiger attack helicopter.

– Integration onto India’s HAL Rudra helicopter is underway.

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