The Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) were procured at a time when the three services are concentrating their efforts on upgrading their overall offensive capabilities in light of India’s numerous security concerns, including its border challenges with China and persistent animosity with Pakistan.
According to the defence ministry, the Indian Air Force would acquire ten helicopters and the Indian Army will receive five.
“The CCS has authorised the procurement of 15 Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) Limited Series Production at a cost of 3,887 crore, as well as infrastructure sanctions of 377 crore,” the statement stated.
The Light Combat Helicopter Limited Series Production (LSP) is an indigenously built combat helicopter with around 45 percent indigenous content by value, with more than 55 percent indigenous content predicted over time. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, a state-owned company, manufactures the helicopter (HAL).
It will be a strong system that will meet the operational needs of both the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Army, according to the ministry. The Army and the IAF are said to require roughly 160 twin-engine LCHs in total.
The ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan,’ or Self-Reliant India Mission, according to the ministry, is assisting India in improving its ability to create, develop, and manufacture new cutting-edge technologies and systems in the defence industry.
During an extended flight campaign from high-altitude bases in the Himalayas, the helicopter’s capabilities were put to the test. It possesses all of the necessary capabilities to operate in Siachen.
“The manufacturing of LCH will minimise the country’s reliance on imported combat helicopters. Import embargoes on light combat helicopters are already in place. LCH has the possibility to export due to its diverse features built-in for combat operations, according to the ministry.
Features of India’s Light Combat Helicopters (LCH)
For the first time, the need for Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) was felt during the Kargil war against Pakistan in 1999. Due to the unavailability of an LCH, Indian forces were forced to convert MI-17 helicopters to fly at such high altitudes.
During the fight, one of these helicopters was shot down by enemy fire, and the Indian Air Force lost it.
HAL announced its desire to construct an LCH capable of operating in difficult desert conditions as well as high altitude locations of Ladakh, including the Siachen Glacier, in 2006. The production of these choppers had been beset by several delays before their maiden test flight in 2010.
The Ministry of Defense didn’t place an official order for any LCHs from HAL until November 2016, when it placed a limited series production order for 15 choppers. The LCH concluded weapons trials in January 2019, and HAL certified it “fit for operational introduction” in February 2020.
According to HAL, the LCH has “the utmost feasible commonality with Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH).” In the helicopter, the pilot and co-pilot sit one behind the other. The helicopter also includes armour protection, night assault capability, and crash-worthy landing gear, as well as a number of stealth features.
It is propelled by two Shakti engines and has a maximum take-off weight of 5,800 kg. It has a range of 550 kilometres, a 6.5-kilometer working ceiling, and a top speed of 268 kilometres per hour.
The LCH is equipped with a 20 mm cannon, 70 mm rockets, and air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles. For the pilots, the LCH has a full glass cockpit, an Electronic Warfare suite, and a helmet-mounted display.
“State-of-the-art technologies and systems compatible with stealth features such as reduced visual, aural, radar, and IR signatures, as well as crashworthiness features for better survivability have been integrated into the LCH for deployment in combat roles catering to emerging needs for the next three to four decades,” according to a statement from the defence ministry.
The LCH is well-suited for anti-tank missions since it can strike and destroy opposing armour columns while flying low and fast. According to HAL, it might also be used for a reconnaissance mission, flying ahead of marching Army columns and detecting hostile locations.
It can also be used to defend against enemy air defences and destroy enemy air defence assets. In addition, the helicopter can do urban warfare missions as well as combat search and rescue missions.
India has been at the forefront of light combat aircraft development. With its dazzling exhibition at international airshows such as Dubai and Singapore, India’s LCA Tejas has been dominating the world media spotlight. India hopes to recreate Tejas”success’ with LCH.