Indigenously Designed and Developed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) inducted into Indian Air Force

Source: The post is based on the following articles

“Indigenously Designed and Developed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) inducted into Indian Air Force” published in the PIB on 3rd October 2022.

“Light Combat Helicopter inducted into Indian Air Force: its features, weapons” published in the Indian Express on 4th October 2022.

What is the News?

The indigenous Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), Prachand was formally inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF).

What are India’s present combat Helicopters?

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 are primarily used for utility helicopters.

Indian forces also operate the Lancer, an armed version of Cheetah. The Indian Air Force currently operates the Russian-origin Mi-17 and its variants. But they are to be phased out starting in 2028.

What is the need for Light Combat Helicopters (LCH)?

Adequate attention was not paid to the development of indigenous attack helicopters for a long time after independence.

Heavy weapon systems and platforms do not allow for rapid movement on the battlefield. Thus, they are sometimes vulnerable and become easy targets for the enemy.

Since the Kargil War in 1999, the need for LCH was felt as it 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.

What are Light Combat Helicopters (LCH)?

The LCH is the first indigenous Multi-Role Combat Helicopter.

Technical specifications: The LCH has been designed as a twin-engine, dedicated combat helicopter of 5.8-ton class, thus categorised as light.

It has a maximum speed of 268 kilometers per hour, a range of 550 kilometres, an endurance of over three hours and a service ceiling — the maximum density altitude to which it can fly — of 6.5 kilometres.

It has a configuration for the pilot and co-pilot. The copilot is also the Weapon Systems Operator (WSO). A pressurised cabin offers protection from nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) contingencies.

The helicopter is equipped with a countermeasure dispensing system that protects it from enemy radars or infrared seekers of enemy missiles.

Designed and developed by: Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

Weapons and other technologies: The helicopter possesses modern stealth characteristics, robust armour protection and formidable night attack capability. Onboard advanced navigation system, guns tailored for close combat and potent air-to-air missiles make the LCH especially suited for the modern battlefield.

Unique features: The LCH is the only attack helicopter in the world which can land and take off at an altitude of 5,000 meters with a considerable load of weapons and fuel, meeting the specific requirements laid out by the Indian Armed Forces.

What are the advantages of Light Combat Helicopters (LCH)?

The LCH has the capabilities of combat roles such as destruction of enemy air defence, counter-insurgency warfare, combat search and rescue, anti-tank, and counter-surface force operations.

LCHs provide tremendous power and versatility to the Air Force. This is because a) LCHs enhance the combat capabilities of IAF, b) Enhance self-reliance in defence production.

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