Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) manufactured the world’s lightest multi-role combat helicopter. Therefore, the HAL Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) is an Indian attack helicopter. It also boasts of having the highest flight ceiling among all of the world’s attack helicopters. The Indian Air Force and the Indian Army are both set to use it. Hence, the Rotary Wing Research and Design Centre (RWR&DC), an internal design office of HAL, has been responsible for the design and project management of the HAL Light Combat Helicopter (LCH).
Origin of the LCH’s Development
After the Kargil War, many shortcomings of the Indian Army’s resources were also highlighted. Improvements were certainly possible in a number of areas. Also, the Indian Army Forces did not have a good attack helicopter which could have been efficiently deployed in the higher altitudes. In early 2004, the Indian Armed Forces were in discussions with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited to start building a Light Combat Helicopter. However, during the end of 2004, the Indian Armed Forces set upon buying foreign-built helicopters for the same purpose instead of going ahead with HAL.
In 2006, HAL made a public announcement about beginning work on a new light attack helicopter which they, therefore, called the ‘Light Combat Helicopter (LCH)’. In late 2006, the Indian Government decided to help HAL in their endeavour by allocating them external finance.
The Helicopter Division of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in Bangalore, hence, got the green signal for the production of the Light Combat Helicopter in February 2020 and the first of the batch had started ground-testing in September 2020.
Total Number of Helicopters and their Operators
A grand total of 162 helicopters will also be received by the Indian Armed Forces. Moreover, of which, 97 units are planned to be used by the Indian Army and the rest 65 will be used by the Indian Air Force. hence, out of all, 2 prototypes got approval to deploy by the Indian Air Force. Also, IAF vice chief Air Marshal Harjit Singh Arora, on August 7, 2020, took LCH in full mission configuration, followed by a HAL test pilot from Thoise to Leh. On 12 August 2020, HAL, therefore, announced the deployment of two LCH prototypes by the Indian Air Force in Ladakh for the carrying out of armed patrols at forward-flight bases.
14 Prominent features of the HAL Light Combat Helicopter
- Glass Cockpit
- Crashworthy bottom structure.
- Crashworthy fixed tricycle type with the tailwheel landing gear.
- Canted flat panels for low Radar Cross Section.
- Integrated Dynamic System.
- Hinge less Main Rotor / Bearing less Tail Rotor.
- Anti-Resonance Isolation System.
- Integrated Architecture and Display System (IADS)
- IR Suppressor
- Counter Measuring Dispensing System (CMDS)
- EO pod, Helmet Mounted Display System & EW suite.
- 20mm Gun, 70mm Rocket & Missiles.
- Air to Air Missiles (ATAM)
- Air to Ground Missiles (ATGM)
Technical Specifications of the HAL Light Combat Helicopter
|Maximum Speed||287 km/h (178 kn)|
|Range||580 km with weapons|
|Service Ceiling||6.5 km.|
|Oblique Climb Rate||12 m/s|
|Payload Weapons||700 kg (1500lb)|
|Endurance||3 Hours 10 Mins|
|Rate of Climb||2,400 Ft./min|
|Powerplant||2 × HAL/Turbomeca Shakti-1H1 turboshaft|
The LCH was the first attack helicopter to land in Siachen, after landing on several helipads at several high altitudes, some of which are up to 13,600 feet, and up to 15,800 feet in duration during these drills. The LCH was acknowledged during the middle of 2016 that its efficiency checks had been completed which opened the way for the validation of its basic configuration. Therefore, restricted production of the LCH in series was officially launched on 26 August 2017.
|Guns||20 mm M621 cannon on Nexter THL-20 turret|
|Rockets||70 mm FZ or Thales rocket pods|
|Missiles||Two-round Mistral-2 air-to-air missiles or four-round Helina (planned)|
|Bombs||Cluster bombs, unguided bombs or grenade launchers|
In 2006, HAL had chosen the M621 cannon, therefore, to operate on the helicopter as a weapons armament. In a THL 20 next-built towel, the M621 cannon is inserted into the helmet view. The LCH can also be fitted with a range of missiles from up to four guided tank missiles of up to 70 mm – the choices are to have both foreign-built and Indian-built missiles, the second as the Helina anti-tank rocket. Therefore, the LCH shall be able to be armed with the MBDA Mistral 2 rocket as far as air to air rockets are concerned. Raket payloads are also available to assault targets with offensive options.
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