- The light combat helicopter (LCH) was designed and built indigenously by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
- It is a two-seater attack helicopter derived from the existing Dhruv helicopter.
- The twin-engine LCH is a 5-8 tonne class dedicated combat helicopter. It was conceptualised after the 1999 Kargil conflict when the need for such a dedicated platform capable of operating in high altitudes was felt.
- It is the only attack helicopter in the world which can land and take-off at an altitude of 5,000 m (16,400 ft) with considerable load of weapons and fuel significantly augmenting the firepower of the IAF and the Army in high altitude areas.
- The LCH can be deployed in various roles, including tracking slow-moving aerial targets, insurgency, destroying enemy defences, search and rescue, anti-tank and scouting.
- The LCH is effective as both an anti-infantry and anti-armour helicopter.
- It is the lightest attack helicopter in the world to meet the specific and unique requirements of the Indian Armed Forces.
- According to HAL, the LCH is a potent weapon platform with state of the art systems and highly accurate weapons capable of hitting any type of target by day or night.
- Other features of the LCH include its ability to operate in the complete ‘Area of Responsibility’ (AOR) and altitudes and has the ability to carry adequate weapon load at high altitudes under varied conditions.
- The LCH is armed with a 20 mm nose gun, 70 mm rockets, anti-tank guided missile ‘Dhruvastra’ and air-to-air missile ‘Mistral-2’ of MBDA which has a maximum interception range of 6.5 km.
- The LCH is equipped with requisite agility, manoeuverability, extended range, high altitude performance and round-the-clock, all-weather combat capability to perform roles of Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), Destruction of Enemy Air Defence (DEAD), Counter Insurgency (CI) operations, against slow moving aircraft and Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAs), high altitude bunker busting operations, counter-insurgency operations in jungle and urban environments and support to ground forces
- Stealth features such as reduced visual, aural, radar and IR signatures and crashworthiness features for better survivability have been integrated into the LCH for deployment in combat roles.
- Several key aviation technologies like a glass cockpit and composite airframe structure have been indigenised
- The LCH has similarities with Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv. It has a number of stealth features, armoured-protection systems, night attack capability and crash-worthy landing gear for better survivability
Need for LCH
- The Army Aviation operates smaller utility helicopters but does not have attack helicopters in its fleet(till now) and has for some time pitched for attack helicopters of its own to operate with its strike Corps. (The attack helicopter fleet is operated by the Air Force which provides close air support to the Army).
- The IAF operates the older Mi-25 and Mi-35 Russian attack helicopters which are in the process of being phased out and has recently inducted 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters from the U.S.
- The LCH will eventually be deployed along the Line of Actual Control with China
- The helicopter has a combat radius of 500 km and goes up to a service ceiling of 21,000 feet which makes it ideal to operate at high altitude areas of the Siachen glacier.
Other Helicopters in the arsenal
- Presently, the Army has Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) and 75 Rudra, weaponized ALH, helicopters in service which are indigenously designed and developed by the HAL in addition to around 160 older Cheetah and Chetak utility helicopters which are in need of urgent replacement.
To know about ALH- https://officerspulse.com/indian-coast-guard-icg/