Light Combat Helicopter
India’s first indigenous dedicated attack gunship, the light combat helicopter (LCH), is finally slated to take to the skies in March next year after a few false starts over the last couple of years. “After the first prototype’s maiden flight in March 2009, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) says LCH should be ready for the initial operational clearance (IOC) by December 2010,’’ a senior defence ministry official said.With the final operational clearance (FOC) a year or so after that, the newly revised timeframes hold that the 5.5-tonne LCH should be ready for induction into the IAF by 2012-2013.The project development cost of the LCH is currently pegged at only Rs 376.67 crore as it’s basically a derivative of the Dhruv ALH (advanced light helicopter) already being inducted into the armed forces. The twin-engine LCH will be armed with a 20mm turret twin-barrel gun, cluster bombs, rocket pods as well as air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles. Designed for antitank and anti-infantry roles with a maximum speed of 275 kmph, it will also be capable of high-altitude warfare as its operational ceiling will be 16,000 to 18,000 feet.“The LCH will incorporate a number of stealth features and crash-worthy landing gear for better survivability. It will have a narrow fuselage, with two crew stations,’’ said an official. The IAF has projected an initial requirement of 65 LCHs, also fitted with helmetmounted targeting systems, electronic warfare equipment and electro-optics, to bolster its attack helicopter fleet. The LCH project has seen Israeli and French collaboration.
Labels: Light Combat Helicopter India