Made-in-India Light Combat Helicopters inducted into IAF

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The first batch of indigenously developed Light Combat Helicopters named as “Prachand” was inducted into the Indian Air Force on Monday in the presence of Defense Minister Rajnath Singh. The Indian made Military Helicopters induction ceremony was held in Jodhpur, Rajasthan where newly appointed Chief of Defense Staff Anil Chauhan was also present at the ceremony with the Defence Minister.

While speaking on this great occasion, the Defence Minister said that these Indigenously-developed Light Combat Helicopters will enhance and improve the overall combat capabilities of the Armed Forces, and will boost defense production and it proves India’s commitment towards achieving self-reliance in Military Equipments Production.

ANI published a detailed report about today’s ceremony: “There could not have been a better timing for LCH induction than Navratri and in the land of warriors, Rajasthan,” The Defence Minister said, adding that the LCH is a result of two decades of hard work and development.

“For a long time, there was a need for attack helicopters and during the 1999 Kargil War, it’s need was felt seriously. The LCH is a result of two decades of development and research and its induction into the Indian Air Force is an important milestone in defense production, “Singh added.

The new helicopter getting inducted into the Armed Forces is highly capable of aerial combat and will greatly help the forces to combat slow-moving aircrafts, drones, armoured columns, etc during conflicts. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has played a very good role in progressing cases for buying Indigenously-developed weapon systems for the armed forces.

He was also present in the Cabinet Committee on security which cleared the purchase of 15 units of these LCHs for the air force and the army.

Hailing the service of the Indian Air Force, Singh said that IAF has played a very important role in the nation’s security whether it was internal threats or external war.

“IAF has always strengthened national security with their courage and bravery. The induction of indigenously developed Light Combat Helicopters will increase the efficiency of the IAF. It has always supported indigenously developed defense products such as the MARUT, Light Combat Aircraft, Akash Missile System, Advanced Light Helicopter and now LCH. It shows IAF’s trust towards indigenously design and development, ” Rajnath Singh said.

Defense Minister also talked about the key feature of this made-in-india LCH and said it perfectly meets the needs of our Armed Forces.

” LCH is capable of dodging the enemy, carrying wide variety of ammunition, and delivering it to the site quickly”

About the Light Combat Helicopter

The HAL Prachand is an Indian multi-role, light attack helicopter designed and manufactured by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) under project LCH. It has been ordered by the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army. Its flight ceiling is the highest among all attack helicopters in the world.

The true impetus for the development of the LCH came in the form of the Kargil War, a conflict fought between India and neighbouring Pakistan in 1999, which revealed the Indian armed forces lacked a suitable armed rotorcraft capable of operating unrestricted in the high-altitude theatre. Accordingly, both HAL and the Indian armed forces commenced exploratory efforts towards the conceptualisation of a combat helicopter to perform in this role.

During 2006, the company announced that it had launched a development programme to produce such a rotorcraft, referred to simply as the LCH or Light Combat Helicopter. Originally, the LCH was anticipated to attain initial operating capability (IOC) by December 2010, however development of the type was protracted and subject to several delays, some of which having been attributed to suppliers.The LCH was officially named “Prachand”.

The LCH drew extensively on an earlier indigenous helicopter developed and manufactured by HAL, the ALH Dhruv; using this rotorcraft as a starting point has been attributed as significantly reducing the cost of the programme. On 29 March 2010, the first LCH prototype performed its maiden flight. An extensive test programme, involving a total of four prototypes, was conducted. During the course of these tests, the LCH gained the distinction of being the first attack helicopter to land in Siachen, having repeatedly landed at several high altitude helipads, some of which being as high as 13,600 feet (4145 meters) to 15,800 feet (4815 meters).

During mid-2016, the LCH was recognised as having completed its performance trials, paving way for the certification of its basic configuration. On 26 August 2017, limited series production of the Prachand was formally inaugurated. On 19 November 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi formally handed over the LCH to IAF Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari, clearing way for full scale induction.

The HAL Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) is a multirole combat helicopter, designed to perform various attack profiles, including relatively high altitude flight. The design and development of the LCH was done in-house, by the Rotary Wing Research and Design Centre (RWR&DC), an internal design office of HAL dedicated to the design of helicopters.

Equipped with a two-person tandem cockpit to accommodate a pilot and co-pilot/gunner, it has been developed to perform both the anti-infantry and anti-armour missions. In addition to these roles, the LCH is intended to be used for a variety of operational purposes, such as to perform air defence against slow-moving aerial targets, including both manned aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), participation in counter-insurgency operations (COIN) and Counter Surface Force Operations (CSFO), the destruction of enemy air defence operations and wider offensive use during urban warfare conditions, escort to special heliborne operations (SHBO), support of combat search and rescue (CSAR) operations, and armed aerial scouting duties.

In terms of its basic configuration, the LCH possesses a relatively narrow fuselage and is equipped with stealth profiling, armour protection, and is equipped to conduct day-and-night combat operations. According to reports, the protective measures included in the rotorcraft includes a digital camouflage system, an infrared (IR) suppressor fitted to the engine exhaust, and an exterior covered by canted flat panels to minimise its radar cross-section (RCS). It is furnished with an integrated dynamic system, including a hingeless main rotor and bearing-less tail rotor, which works in conjunction with an anti-resonance isolation system to dampen vibrations.

During Aero India 2011, HAL’s Rotary Wing Research & Design Centre informed the press that the LCH is “probably the most agile design in the world because of its rotor”.

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