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About Light Combat Helicopter

Context:

The indigenous Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), capable of destroying enemy air defence, conducting counter insurgency strikes and much more, was formally inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) at the Jodhpur air base.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Light Combat Helicopter
  2. Features, significance of the LCH
  3. Way Forward

About Light Combat Helicopter

  • LCH is a multi-role attack helicopter designed by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for use in the Indian Air Force and Indian Army.
  •  Its flight ceiling is one of the highest among the attack helicopters of the world.
  • The LCH is the only attack helicopter in the world which can land and take off at an altitude of 5,000 meters with a considerable load of weapons and fuel, meeting the specific requirements laid out by the Indian Armed Forces.
  • It was during the 1999 Kargil war that the need was first felt for a homegrown lightweight assault helicopter that could hold precision strikes in all Indian battlefield scenarios.
  • This meant a craft that could operate in very hot deserts and also in very cold high altitudes, in counter-insurgency scenarios to full-scale battle conditions.

Features, significance of the LCH

  • LCH has the maximum take-off weight of 5.8 tonnes, maximum speed of 268 kilometers per hour, range of 550 kilometers, endurance of over three hours and service ceiling — the maximum density altitude to which it can fly — of 6.5 kilometres.
  • The helicopter uses radar-absorbing material to lower radar signature and has a significantly crash-proof structure and landing gear.
  • A pressurised cabin offers protection from nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) contingencies.
  • The helicopter is equipped with a countermeasure dispensing system that protects it from enemy radars or infrared seekers of the enemy missiles.
  • As far as weapons systems are concerned, a 20 mm turret gun, 70 mm rockets and air-to-air missile systems are onboard.
  • LCH is powered by two French-origin Shakti engines manufactured by the HAL.
  • With these features, the LCH has the capabilities of combat roles such as destruction of enemy air defence, counter insurgency warfare, combat search and rescue, anti-tank, and counter surface force operations.

Way Forward

  • According to HAL there is a projected requirement of 160 LCHs — 65 for IAF and 95 for Indian Army.
  • After receiving a contract for the LSP in March, some units have already been delivered and the rest are at various stages of acceptance.
  • HAL has said that it has drawn a detailed masterplan for achieving the peak rate production capacity of 30 helicopters per year in order to produce the remaining 145 LCHs in eight years from the date of signing of Series Production order.

-Source: Indian Express


 

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