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Special Content

Issue no 30, 22-28 October 2022

Indigenously Designed & Developed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH)

Giving Wings to India's Atmanirbhar Dream


The first indigenously designed and developed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) has officially joined the Indian armed forces, in what is being seen as a big boost to the country's defence capability as well as a milestone achievement in the journey of self reliance in the defence sector. . The LCH, manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), has potent ground attack and aerial combat capability and is a testimony to India's growing prowess in indigenous design, development & manufacturing and a significant milestone in the path towards 'Atmanirbharta' in Defence. The helicopter possesses modern stealth characteristics, robust armour protection and formidable night attack capability. Onboard advanced navigation system, guns tailored for close combat and potent air to air missiles make the LCH especially suited for the modern battlefield. Capable of operating from high altitude terrain and carrying out precision strike at high altitude targets, the helicopter is a formidable addition to the Indian armed forces' arsenal. The Cabinet Committee on Security chaired by the Prime Minister, had approved procurement of 15 Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) Limited Series Production for the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force at the cost of Rs 3,887 Cr along with infrastructure sanctions worth Rs 377 Cr in March this year.


LCH in Indian Air Force

On 3rd October 2022, the Indian Air Force (IAF) inducted the LCH after christening it as 'Prachand' meaning fierce. The inducted ceremony held at IAF base, Jodhpur, was attended by Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh. Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Anil Chauhan, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhary, Air Marshal Vikram Singh Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, South Western Air Command, Chairman and Managing Director of HAL Shri C.B. Ananthakrishnan, senior officials of Ministry of Defence, IAF and local dignitaries were present on the occasion. Addressing the ceremony, the Raksha Mantri said, "The trust reposed and support extended by the IAF towards indigenous design & development is evident through the examples such as Marut, Light Combat Aircraft, Akash missile system, Advanced Light Helicopter and the Light Combat Helicopter. The induction of HAL's LCH underlines the fact that just as the country trusts the Indian Air Force, the IAF equally trusts the indigenous equipment." LCH Prachand is now part of IAF's newly raised 143. Helicopter Unit (Dhanush). The unit was raised on 1st June 2022 and started receiving the initial lot of LCH from 18th July 2022. On 3rd October, 2022, four LCH were inducted into the Unit Capable of operating from high altitude terrain and carrying out precision strike at high altitude targets, the helicopter is a formidable addition to IAF's arsenal. According to Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhary, Chief of Air Staff, the versatility and offensive potential of the LCH is at par or better than most attack helicopters operating globally. Selection of the personnel in the 143-helicopter unit which will man the LCH have been made based on professional competence so as to ensure operationalisation of the unit at the earliest.


LCH in Indian Army

Earlier on 29th September, HAL handed over the first LCH to Director General Army Aviation Corps, Lieutenant General AK Suri. In a Twitter post, the Army's Additional Directorate General of Public Information said: "Highly manoeuvrable and agile, LCH will significantly enhance the combat capability." The helicopters are expected to bolster the capabilities of the Army in performing various roles including combat search and rescue, counter insurgency operations against slow moving aircraft, and remotely piloted aircraft. Heavy weapon systems and platforms do not allow for rapid movement in the battlefield, are sometimes vulnerable, and become easy targets for the enemy. Therefore, the need of the hour is to move towards the development of those equipment and platforms, which are mobile, have ease of movement, are more flexible, and at the same time meet the requirements of the armed forces. In this context, LCH is a crucial addition.


Atmanirbharta in Defence

In 2013, the then government announced the Defence Indigenisation Policy and mandated that defence equipment be manufactured with at least 30 per cent of the indigenous content on the overall cost. The Defence Acquisition Policy (DAP), announced in 2020, extended the previous limit to 50 per cent of indigenous content on overall manufacturing costs. It was a significant step that showed the government's confidence in domestic arms vendors and their capabilities to serve the needs of the Armed Forces. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his address to the nation on 12 May 2020, gave a clarion call for a Self-reliant India, based on five principles-Economy, System, Infrastructure, Demography and Demand. He also announced a special economic package called 'Atmanirbhar Bharat'. Taking it as a pivot point, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) released 'Negative List' of defence equipment banning their imports and to push for indigenisation to meet the aspirations of 'Atmanirbhar Bharat'. Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) figure in the 'Negative List.' The LCH is indigenously designed with 45% made-inIndia components by Rotary Wing Research & Design Centre (RWRDC) of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It is designed for a two-person tandem cockpit to accommodate a pilot and co-pilot/gunner. The LCH is furnished with a glass cockpit which accommodates an Integrated Avionics and Display System (IADS) and has an array of multifunction displays in conjunction with the onboard target acquisition and designation systems. It meets the requirements of modern warfare and necessary quality parameters under varied conditions of operations for both the Army and the Air Force. Not only will this versatile helicopter reduce the import dependence of the Indian armed forces, but is also a potent candidate for defence exports.


Prominent Features of HAL LCH

The LCH can perform a range of roles, including combat, search and rescue, destruction of enemy air defence and counter-insurgency operations in the jungle and urban environments. Key features include:

·         It is a state-of-the-art modern combat helicopter, is primarily designed for deployment in high-altitude regions. It is the only attack helicopter in the world which can land and take-off at an altitude of 5,000 metres, with a considerable load of weapons and fuel.

·         Onboard advanced navigation system, guns tailored for close combat and potent air to air missiles make the LCH especially suited for the modern battlefield.

·         This helicopter is powered by two Shakti engines.

·         It has robust armour protection and formidable night attack capability.

·         Equipped with crash-worthy landing gear, the narrow fuselage with tandem cockpit configuration makes the LCH extremely maneuverable and agile.

·         Modern stealth characteristics like low radar cross section and minimal infrared signature allow the LCH to go behind enemy lines undetected and attack with precision.

·         The LCH is armed with air-toair and air-to-ground missiles, 70 mm rockets and a 20 mm gun. It boasts of a full glass cockpit, electronic warfare suite and helmetmounted display for the flying crew.


Compiled by Annesha Banerjee & Anuja Bhardwajan Source: PIB/HAL/DRDO