The Indian Air Force (IAF) inducted the first four Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) on October 3. The Indian Air Force formally inducted the indigenously developed multi-role Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), which is suitable for operating in high-altitude battlefields, and capable of destroying enemy air defence and engaging in counter-insurgency operations.
The LCH has been designed as a twin-engine, dedicated combat helicopter of 5.8-ton class, thus categorised as light. It features a narrow fuselage and tandem — one behind the other — configuration for pilot and co-pilot. The copilot is also the Weapon Systems Operator (WSO).
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh presided over the induction ceremony along with the new Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Anil Chauhan and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari. The name, Prachand (“fierce”), was announced during the ceremony.
According to the Defence Ministry, the helicopter is equipped with the requisite agility, maneuverability, extended range, high-altitude performance and around-the-clock, all-weather combat capability to perform Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), Destruction of Enemy Air Defence (DEAD), Counter Insurgency (CI) operations.
HAL Chairman and Managing Director C B Ananthakrishnan said, “The LCH is the only attack helicopter in the world that can fly and take off at an altitude of 5,000 metres with considerable weapons and fuel load, meeting the specific requirement of armed forces… More than 250 vendors are involved in the manufacturing of components, assemblies, fixtures, etc.”
Of the 10 helicopters for IAF in the Limited Production Series, four have been delivered and the rest will be delivered by the financial year-end.