Light Combat Helicopter inducted into Indian Air Force
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Science & Technology
4th Oct, 2022
The Indian Air Force (IAF) inducted its first batch of indigenously-developed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) in a major boost to its combat prowess was formally inducted at the Jodhpur air base.
- The helicopter will be called ‘Prachand’, which means fierce.
About Light Combat Helicopter
- LCH has been developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).
- The first prototype of the helicopter took first flight on March 29, 2010 and has since undergone extensive testing and evaluation.
- It is a state-of-the-art modern combat helicopter, primarily designed for deployment in high-altitude regions.
- It is the only attack helicopter in the world which can land and take-off at an altitude of 5,000 m with a considerable load of weapons and fuel.
- It has a range of 550 km and an operational ceiling of 6500 m.
- It is armed with air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, 70 mm rockets and a 20 mm gun.
Genesis of the Light Combat Helicopter
- It was during the 1999 Kargil war that the need was first felt for a homegrown lightweight assault helicopter that could hold precision strikes in all Indian battlefield scenarios.
- This meant a craft that could operate in very hot deserts and also in very cold high altitudes, in counter-insurgency scenarios to full-scale battle conditions.
- India has been operating sub 3 ton category French-origin legacy helicopters, Chetak and Cheetah, made in India by the HAL.
- These single engine machines were, primarily, utility helicopters.
- Indian forces also operate the Lancer, an armed version of Cheetah.
- In addition, the Indian Air Force currently operates the Russian origin Mi-17 and its variants Mi-17 IV and Mi-17 V5, with maximum take off weight of 13 tonnes, which are to be phased out starting 2028.
- But the requirement was for a more agile, multi-role dedicated attack helicopter.
- After the initial deliberations, the government sanctioned the LCH project in October 2006, and HAL was tasked to develop it.
- The HAL’s Rotary Wing Research and Development Centre, which had already worked on the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruva and its weaponised version ALH Rudra, embarked upon the project.
- It is powered by two Shakti engines and is equipped with stealth features, all-weather combat capability, armour protection, night attack capability, and crash-worthy landing gear.
- The narrow fuselage with tandem cockpit configuration makes LCH extremely manoeuvrable and agile.
- Stealth features like low radar cross section and minimal infrared signature allow it to go behind enemy lines undetected and attack with precision.
- It boasts of a full glass cockpit, Electronic Warfare suite and helmet-mounted display for the flying crew.
- It can perform a range of roles, including combat search and rescue, destruction of enemy air defence and counter-insurgency operations in the jungle and urban environments.
- The induction of LCH in the Indian Air Force is expected to provide further impetus to Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan.