- India’s first indigenous light combat helicopter was inducted into the IAF.
- The helicopter is capable of offensive operations in high-altitude areas like Siachen Glacier and eastern Ladakh.
What’s in today’s article:
- Indian Air Force has formally inducted the indigenously developed multi-role Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), Prachand.
- The Helicopter is suitable for operating in high-altitude battlefields, and capable of destroying enemy air defence and engaging in counter-insurgency operations.
- The Limited Series Production version of the light combat helicopter has around 45 per cent indigenous content by value.
- In due course, it will increase to more than 55 per cent for the Series Production version.
Features of Prachand
- 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.
- Designed as a twin-engine, it has the maximum take-off weight of 5.8 tonnes, maximum speed of 268 kilometers per hour, range of 550 kilometers.
- It has an endurance of over three hours and service ceiling — the maximum density altitude to which it can fly — of 6.5 kilometres.
- It is powered by two French-origin Shakti engines manufactured by the HAL.
- As far as weapons systems are concerned, a 20 mm turret gun, 70 mm rockets and air-to-air missile systems are onboard.
Helicopters currently operated by Indian armed forces
- India has been operating sub-3-ton category French-origin legacy helicopters, Chetak and Cheetah, made in India by the HAL.
- These single engine machines were, 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.
- These helicopters are to be phased out starting 2028.
Need for the Light Combat Helicopter
- It was during the 1999 Kargil war that the need was felt for a homegrown lightweight assault helicopter that could hold precision strikes in all Indian battlefield scenarios.
- i.e., a helicopter that could operate in very hot deserts and also in very cold high altitudes, in counter-insurgency scenarios to full-scale battle conditions.
- Although India was operating many helicopters of foreign origin, need was felt for a more agile, multi-role dedicated attack helicopter.
- As a result, the government sanctioned the LCH project in October 2006, and HAL was tasked to develop it.
- After the sanctioning of project in 2006, initial operational clearance came in 2017 for the IAF variant and in 2019 for the Army variant.
- In August 2020, the MoD (Ministry of Defence) added LCH to the items under import embargo.
- In November 2021, PM Modi symbolically handed over the LCH to the Indian Air Force, paving the way for its final induction.
- In March this year, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approved procurement of 15 LCH Limited Series Production (LSP) — 10 for IAF and 5 for Army.
- The LCH was formally inducted into the Army on September 29 at Bangalore and into the IAF on Monday at Jodhpur.