Light Combat Helicopter

  • IASbaba
  • October 5, 2022
  • 0
Science and Technology
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Context: Recently, indigenous Light Combat Helicopter (LCH)( ‘Prachand’), capable of destroying enemy air defence, conducting counter insurgency strikes and much more, was formally inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) at the Jodhpur air base

  • According to its makers, the LCH is the only attack helicopter in the world which can land and take off at an altitude of 5,000 meters with a considerable load of weapons and fuel, meeting the specific requirements laid out by the Indian Armed Forces.

Genesis of the helicopter:

  • Currently, India has been operating sub 3 ton category French-origin legacy helicopters, Chetak and Cheetah, made in India by the HAL which are primarily, utility helicopters
  • Indian forces also operate the Lancer, an armed version of Cheetah
  • In addition, the Indian Air Force currently operates the Russian origin Mi-17 and its variants Mi-17 IV and Mi-17 V5, with maximum take-off weight of 13 tonnes, which are to be phased out starting 2028.
  • But it was during the 1999 Kargil war that the need was first felt for a homegrown lightweight assault helicopter that could hold precision strikes in all Indian battlefield scenarios.
  • It meant a craft that could operate in very hot deserts and also in very cold high altitudes, in counter-insurgency scenarios to full-scale battle conditions.
  • The requirement was for a more agile, multi-role dedicated attack helicopter. After the initial deliberations, the government sanctioned the LCH project in October 2006, and HAL was tasked to develop it.
  • The HAL’s Rotary Wing Research and Development Centre, which had already worked on the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruva and its weaponised version ALH Rudra, embarked upon the project.

The development of LCH:

  • 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 co-pilot is also the Weapon Systems Operator (WSO).
  • It also has many more state-of-art systems that make it a dedicated attack helicopter.
  • The first Technology Demonstrator was completed in February 2010 and took its first flight in March the same year.
    • TD-2 prototype, completed around 2012, successfully passed the cold weather trials at high altitude. TD-3 and TD-4 prototypes, completed around 2014 and 2015, successfully tested other flight test requirements.
  • HAL officials said that the flight testing was carried out at various altitudes, from sea level to the Siachen range, in extreme cold and hot weather conditions, and in desert regions.
    • During these tests, integration of mission sensors such as electro-optical system, helmet-mounted display system, solid state data and video recorder, and weapon systems such as turret gun, rockets and air-to-air missile systems was carried out.
  • In March this year, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approved procurement of 15 LCH Limited Series Production (LSP) — 10 for IAF and five for Army — at the cost of Rs 3,887 crore along with infrastructure sanctions worth Rs 377 crore.

 Features of the LCH:

  • LCH has the maximum take-off weight of 5.8 tonnes, maximum speed of 268 kilometres per hour, range of 550 kilometres, endurance of over three hours and service ceiling — the maximum density altitude to which it can fly — of 6.5 kilometres.
  • The helicopter uses radar-absorbing material to lower radar signature and has a significantly crash-proof structure and landing gear. A pressurised cabin offers protection from Nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) contingencies.
  • The helicopter is equipped with a countermeasure dispensing system that protects it from enemy radars or infrared seekers of the enemy missiles. As far as weapons systems are concerned, a 20 mm turret gun, 70 mm rockets and air-to-air missile systems are onboard.
  • LCH is powered by two French-origin Shakti engines manufactured by the HAL.
  • With these features, the LCH has the capabilities of combat roles such as destruction of enemy air defence, counter insurgency warfare, combat search and rescue, anti-tank, and counter surface force operations.

Way Forward:

  • These are the significant achievements of India in the field of defence which shows India’s capability in developing state of art defence technology which will also pave the way for the Aatmanirbhar Bharat.
  • It will also helpful in reducing the defence import bill of India and on the other hand, it will strengthen the India’s position in export of defence equipment.

Source: Indian Express

Previous Year Question

Q.1) With reference to India’s satellite launch  vehicles, consider the following statements:

  1. PSLVs launch satellites useful for Earth resources monitoring whereas GSLVs are designed mainly to launch communication satellites.
  2. Satellites launched by PSLV appear to remain permanently fixed in the same position in the sky, as viewed from a particular location on Earth.
  3. GSLV Mk III is a four-staged launch vehicle with the first and third stages using solid rocket motors; and the second and fourth stages using liquid rocket engines.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct.? (2018)

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 1 and 2
  4. 3 only


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