With Prime Minister Narendra Modi handing over the first indigenously made Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) to the Indian Air Force (IAF), state-owned manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is looking at delivering 150 units to the armed forces, if required.
HAL Chairman R Madhvan told India Today that the organisation is looking at a total order of 150 LCHs and can provide the 15 already ordered by the IAF within a year.
He added the advanced version of Light Combat Aircraft- Tejas, the Mark 1 A, will fly the first prototype by the middle of next year. “By March 2024, the first aircraft will be delivered,” he said.
The HAL has got an order to manufacture 73 Mark 1-A, which will be more potent and effective than the previous Mark 1. This will be in addition to the 123 Mark 1 Tejas.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi handed over the first Light Combat Helicopter to the Air Force in Jhansi where other indigenous platforms like drones and electronic warfare suit were also handed over to the army and navy respectively.
LCH is the dedicated combat helicopter designed and developed indigenously for the first time in India.
“LCH is the only attack helicopter in the world which can land and take-off at an altitude of 5000 meters (16400 ft) with a considerable load of weapons and fuel meeting the specific requirements of Indian Armed Forces,” a statement from HAL said.
According to HAL, material procurement for all the 15 helicopters ordered by IAF is complete. “Three helicopters are ready for delivery to users and the balance helicopters are in advanced stages of production.”
HAL is looking at the production of 30 helicopters per annum.
“As in other aircraft development, LCH is also being continuously upgraded with the advancement of technologies. Improved Electronics Warfare (EW) Suite, Directional Infra-Red Counter Measure (DIRCM), Air to Ground Missile (ATGM), Datalink, Anti-Radiation Missile (ARM), Bombs, Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) protection, and wire cutter are being incorporated,” the HAL statement said.
The LCH is a twin-engine, 5.8-ton class helicopter featuring narrow fuselage and tandem configuration for pilot and co-pilot/Weapon System Operator (WSO). It incorporates a number of stealth features such as reduced radar and infra-red signatures and crash-worthy landing gear for better survivability.
The ‘Made in India’ combat helicopter incorporates advanced technologies and is designed to carry out roles such as destruction of enemy air defence, counterinsurgency, search and rescue, antitank, counter surface force operations, among others.