LCH fires Mistral-2 missile, inches close to induction
Bengaluru: Wriggling out of the slugfest over the Rafale controversy, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) on Thursday said the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) has completed all weapon trials making it ‘eligible’ for operational induction.
The LCH successfully fired an air-to-air missile on a moving aerial target during the recent weapon trials.
HAL sources confirmed to Onmanorma that the missile fired was Mistral-2 ATAM (Air-to-Air Mistral) from MBDA. ATAM Mistral is also integrated on Rudra, the weaponised version of Dhruv.
The trials were held at the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Odisha. LCH is designed and developed by HAL’s Rotary Wing Research & Design Centre (RWRDC) in Bengaluru.
HAL’s rotary wing crew consisting of Wg Cdr Subash P John (Retd), a test pilot and Col Ranjit Chitale (Retd), a flight test engineer along with Gp Capt Rajeev Dubey, a test pilot from the Indian Air Force (IAF), were part of the recent trials.
HAL claimed the tests as ‘flawless,’ achieving a direct hit.
“It was as per the flight plan. The missile destroyed the target completely. This is by far the best result we have had,” says an official.
It is for the first time in the country that a helicopter has carried out an air to air missile engagement.
“None of the helicopters with the military services in the country has demonstrated such a capability. With this, LCH has successfully completed all weapon integration tests and is ready for operational induction,” says HAL chairman Madhavan R.
Last year, LCH had completed weapon trials with a 20-mm turret gun and 70 mm rocket.
LCH is the only attack helicopter in the world capable of operating at altitudes as high as Siachen glacier.
The need for this attack helicopter was felt after the Kargil War and HAL undertook the challenge of developing a new platform.
Much of LCH design philosophies have been inspired from the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), which is now being used in large numbers by various wings of Services.
LCH is equipped with a helmet-mounted sight and a forward looking infrared sighting system. The pilots can detect and destroy any target on ground or in the air. Using these sights, pilots can now launch a missile onto any target without having to turn the helicopter.
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had earlier approved the procurement of an initial batch of 15 LCHs, out of which 10 are for the IAF and five for the Indian Army.
HAL hopes that these orders would go up in future as both the IAF and the Army need these fast attack choppers to operate at hostile terrains.