Prime Minister Narendra Modi will officially hand over the HAL-manufactured Light Combat Helicopter to the Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari in Jhansi on Nov 19. The twin-engine LCH, designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), is a 5- 8 tonne class dedicated combat helicopter.
It is the only attack helicopter in the world which can land and take off at an altitude of 5,000 m (16,400 ft.) with a considerable load of weapons and fuel, significantly augmenting the firepower of the IAF and the Army in high-altitude areas. It can climb at a rate of 12m/s, and hits its maximum altitude and service ceiling at 2,743m and 6,500m respectively. The helicopter has a ferry range of 700km. The Main and tail rotor diameters of LCH are 13.3m and 2.05m respectively. The two-seater craft also has a tricycle crashworthy wheel landing gear and stealth capabilities.
It will eventually be deployed along the Line of Actual Control with China. The AH64E Apache helicopters are already in service there. According to a defence ministry statement – “LCH incorporates advanced technologies and stealth features and is designed to carry out roles such as destruction of enemy air defence, counter-insurgency, search and rescue and anti-tank operations. 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.”
Besides them, the LCH can be deployed in other various roles, including tracking slow-moving aerial targets, destroying enemy defences, anti-tank and scouting. A datalink system transmits mission data to mobile platforms and ground stations operating within the network. It is also equipped with a missile warning system and anti-missile countermeasures.
The helicopter is also equipped with electronic warfare systems and advanced weapons systems, including a chin-mounted, twin-barrel M621 20mm cannon on a Nexter THL-20 turret, 70mm rockets, MBDA air-to-air, air-to-surface and anti-radiation missiles, and Helina anti-tank guided missiles.
Explosive ordnance includes iron bombs, cluster bombs and grenade launchers.This helicopter will be equipped with Nag Anti Tank missiles also (20 km range) and Mistral Air-to-Air missiles(7 km range), making it a force to be reckoned with.
During the 1999 Kargil war, the Indian Airforce felt the need of high altitude attack Helicopters. Such Helicopters would have given India air superiority at Kargil and ground forces had to be deployed extensively to clear Pakistani Army from remote posts.
This Helicopter is an answer to that shortage, development of which started immediately after the war during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. Around 165 of these helicopters will be built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), for Indian Army Aviation Corps as well as Indian Airforce. HAL has set up a dedicated Assembly line at its Bangaluru factory to produce around 30 LCH helicopters per year.