Indigenous Light Combat Helicopter To Be Handed Over To IAF By PM Modi On 19 November In Jhansi
The helicopter has been operating with the IAF in Ladakh since last year.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will officially hand over the indigenous Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in Uttar Pradesh's Jhansi on 19 November, reports say.
LCH, India’s first indigenously-built dedicated attack helicopter, has been designed and built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
The helo has been operating with the IAF in Ladakh since last year. Two of these helicopters reached Ladakh from Bangalore in August 2020, a report in Livefist says. The helos have been flying armed patrol sorties in the region amid reports of China’s unwillingness to move back its forces from areas it occupied along the Line of Actual Control in May.
The development had come to light after Air Marshal Harjit Singh Arora, the then Vice Chief of the Air Staff, flew in one of two LCH helos deployed in Ladakh. Posting a picture of Air Marshal Arora standing in front of an LCH airframe on Twitter, the IAF had said that the Vice Chief flew it during his visit to forward air bases in the Ladakh sector on 7 August.
Air Marshal Arora flew the LCH from Thoise to Leh along with a HAL test pilot. According to Livefist, the helicopter was flown in “full mission configuration... with temperatures as high as ISA + 36 degrees”, crossed various passes such as Khardung La and Chang La, carried out a simulated attack, and then demonstrated its maneuverability in simulated “aerial combat profile”.
The LCH has been built to meet the requirements of the Indian military in high altitude areas. It has demonstrated its capability of operating in high altitude conditions during trials not only in Ladakh but also on the Siachen Glacier. Equipped with HAL's new-generation Shakti engine, co-developed with French engine-maker Safran, the 5.5 tonne helo has been designed to operate at an altitude of up to 20,000 feet.
“During the Kargil War of 1999, there was a need felt for armed attack helicopters capable of operating at high altitude. That’s where the LCH fits in,” former Indian Air Force chief Fali Homi Major, the only helicopter pilot to become Chief of Air Staff, wrote recently.
The combat helicopter comes armed with a cannon mounted below its nose, capable of piercing light armour with a thousand 20-millimetre bullets each minute. It carries 70-millimetre rockets on pods on either side. It can also be armed with an air-to-air missile and an anti-armour missile.
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