HAL’s Light Combat Helicopter Is Nothing Short Of A Flying Tank

During the 1999 Kargil War, operations of Indian Air Force were hampered as the only combat helicopter, the Mi-35, couldn’t operate at extremely high altitudes where most of the conflict was concentrated.

“The Mi-35 couldn’t even cross the Banihal pass. We were handicapped and badly needed a chopper that can even launch assaults at high altitudes,” (Retd) Wing Commander Unni Pillai, the chief test pilot of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) reminisced.

Seventeen years after the war, India has an indigenous combat helicopter that can carry out operations even at the 19,600-feet high Siachen glacier. Designed and built by HAL, the Light Combat Helicopter is the only machine in the world that can carry out operations at such high altitudes.

“Last year we successfully landed this helicopter at Siachen glacier, the only combat helicopter to do that in the world.”

Unni Pillai, (Retd) Wing Commander and Chief Test Pilot, HAL

HAL claims that the LCH is designed to carry out dedicated combat roles such as Air Defence, anti-tank, scout and support combat search/rescue missions. It incorporates a number of stealth features such as reduced visual, aural, radar and infra-red signatures and crashworthy landing gear, armour protection for better survivability. The helicopter is powered by two Shakti engines. There are plans to produce LCH in large numbers to meet the operational requirements.
 The main fire arm of the LCH is the Nexter 20 mm cannon it can hold some 800 rounds of ammunition, with an effective range of 2500 feet, also it comes with four hard points two in each wing to carry unguided Rockets and guided Air to air or anti armour missiles, The LCH designed to carry  set of two Mistral Air to air missiles for Air operations to shoot down enemy helicopters Turbo prop special mission Transports and low flying UAV’s, otherwise it can carry LAHAT Anti Tank or Helina Anti Tank missiles for Anti armour and ground operations, also the LCH can use combination of all the above missiles and Rocket pods.. SAAB South Africa is providing the LCH’s electronic warfare suite.

Armed with a nose gun, rockets, air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, the LCH is a 5.8-tonne class chopper, heavily armoured and engineered for combat. The helicopter has a state-of-the-art cockpit with day/night targeting systems for the crew including the helmet pointed sight, with the help of which the pilot can aim just by looking at the target. The LCH is fitted with a self-protection suite consisting of radar/laser missile warning systems and counter measures dispensing system (CMDS).

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“The machine can carry weapons up to 1,000 kg. In addition, we have a nose gun which can carry up to 300 rounds of ammunition of different type, penetrating or high explosives,” added Pillai.

Pillai said the first limited series of 10 helicopters will be available to the Indian Air Force in the next four months.

The first prototype helicopter had its inaugural flight on March 23, 2010.

Commenting on the Make in India initiative, he asserted that the requirements of the Indian Air Force can only be met by aircraft manufactured locally.

“We have a particular operating environment and we are the best people to make as per our requirement. American machines don’t have a requirement to operate above 10,000-12,000 feet. Hence to enhance our operation capabilities, it is important we make in our country.”

(Retd) Wing Commander, Unni Pillai, Chief Test Pilot, HAL

Source:- Bloomberg Quint

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