State-owned Indian aerospace prime Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) announced on 12 August that it had deployed two prototype Light Combat Helicopters (LCHs) to bolster Indian Air Force (IAF) operations in the high-altitude region of Ladakh, near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that demarcates Indian and Chinese territory.
The armies of both countries have been locked in a standoff in the LAC since early May, with loss of life resulting from what has been claimed to be incursions by either side.
HAL said in its statement that the one of the LCHs performed a simulated attack on a high-altitude target and landed at “one of the most treacherous helipads in the region”, successfully demonstrating its demonstrated its ability to be quickly deployed to austere forward locations.
The company inaugurated a new and dedicated assembly line for the LCH at its Bangalore-based Helicopter Complex on in February 2020 to build an initial batch of 15 helicopters, with 10 earmarked for the IAF and the remainder for the Indian Army’s Aviation Corps. Both services are expected to acquire up to 160 LCHs.
Light Combat Helicopters (LCHs)
The LCH is a 5.5 tonne helicopter that can carry a maximum payload of around 500 kg. It is powered by two Safran Ardiden 1H1/Shakti turboshaft engines that enable it to attain a company stated operational range of 550 km and a service ceiling of 6,500 m. The engines enable the LCH to operate in support of the Indian Army in the Himalayas.
The helicopter is equipped with a sensor and electronic protection suite supplied by Saab, which includes a radar as well as laser and missile warning systems. An indigenously developed integrated avionics and display system enables its crew to conduct day-and-night combat operations in almost any weather conditions.
It will be armed with a turret-mounted Nexter 20 mm main gun, Thales 70 mm rockets, MBDA Mistral ATAM air defence missiles, as well as the locally developed Helina anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) which is the air-launched version of the land-based Nag ATGM.
“LCH is a potent weapon platform because of its state-of-the-art systems and highly accurate weapons that are capable of hitting any type of target by day or night,” HAL said.
“The other features of LCH include its ability to operate in the complete ‘Area of Responsibility’ (AOR) and altitudes,” it added. “It has capability to carry adequate weapon load at high altitudes under varied conditions. All these characteristics make it most suitable for hot and high-altitude operations.”
by Jr Ng