The Indian Air Force (IAF) got the indigenously made Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) on Monday. The choppers were inducted officially by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in Jodhpur.
The LCH, the newest induction into the Indian Air Force, was named Prachand. The LCH is a dedicated combat helicopter designed and developed indigenously for the first time in India. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also took a sortie in a helicopter flown by the Commanding Officer, Group Captain Deepak Vishnoi.
The morale in the 143 Helicopter Unit, also called the Dhanush Squadron, was high. Young pilots were excited to be part of the squadron with the new helicopters.
“To quote a famous boxer, Mohammed Ali, all I can say is this machine flies like a butterfly and stings like a bee,” sharing his experience of flying the LCH, Wing Commander Saurabh Sharma, who is also the Flight Commander of Dhanush Squadron 143 Helicopter Unit said.
“It’s a very agile machine, nimble, and the rotor system makes it extremely manoeuvrable. Its all-weather capability of flying day and night is a result of careful planning,” he added.
“The josh is really high, we are all excited. It’s a big day not just for us but for the entire nation as the Light Combat Helicopter gets inducted,” said Squadron Leader Anuj.
Squadron Leader Anuj, one of the young pilots, stated the advantage of having a helmet-mounted display.
“Helmet mounted display, in a simple language, means where I look, my gun will get pointed in that direction. That makes targeting easy. It has a 20 mm turret gun capable of delivering 400 rounds,” Squadron Leader Anuj said.
“Flying this (LCH) is a great experience, and since it has a state-of-the-art navigation system and new avionics, it’s a different experience altogether,” said Squadron Leader Lavpreet Sharma.
The agility and manoeuvrability make the LCH an appropriate choice for mountain warfare as it can take off and land with a payload even at 16,000 feet.
The helicopters are manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It is suited to the roles of Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), Destruction of Enemy Air Defence (DEAD), Counter Insurgency (CI) operations, and taking on slow-moving aircraft, Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAs), high altitude bunker busting operations.
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the procurement of 15 Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) at the cost of Rs. 3,887 Crore along with infrastructure sanctions worth Rs. 377 Cr in March this year.
It would be a potent platform to meet the operational requirements of the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army.
Out of the 15, the Indian Air Force will get ten and the Indian Army five.
While four have already been handed to the Air Force, the remaining will be delivered by March 2023. The Indian Army has got one and will get the remaining four by the end of this month to be deployed in the eastern sector.
The Light Combat Helicopter Limited Series Production (LSP) is an indigenously designed, developed, and manufactured state-of-the-art modern combat helicopter with 45% indigenous that will increase to more than 55%.
The helicopters are equipped with the requisite agility, manoeuvrability, extended range, high altitude performance and around-the-clock, all-weather combat capability.
Several key aviation technologies, like a glass cockpit and composite airframe structures, have been indigenised. The upcoming series production version will consist of further modern & indigenous systems.
The HAL is ready to provide 150 LCH to the forces if required and is looking at the production of 30 helicopters annually.