India commissions indigenous Light Combat Helicopter

HAL Light Combat Helicopter Prachand -- Indian Air Force
HAL Light Combat Helicopter Prachand -- Indian Air Force

The Indian Air force (IAF) has formally inducted the Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) in a ceremony officiated by India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at Jodhpur Air Force Station on 3 October.

The indigenously developed LCH was named ‘Prachanda’ (Fierce) and is expected to undertake missions such as ground attack, counterinsurgency, as well as combat search and rescue. In addition, the Prachanda is envisioned as a possible solution for unmanned aerial vehicle and slow-moving aircraft threats.

The LCH is a 5.8 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. T

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 is understood to be 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.

“The 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 earlier stated.

“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.”

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 in total.

by Jr Ng