HAL Light Combat Helicopter
|Light Combat Helicopter|
|A HAL LCH Prototype|
|Manufacturer||Hindustan Aeronautics Limited|
|First flight||29 March 2010|
|Primary users||Indian Army
Indian Air Force
US$17.48 million
|Developed from||HAL Dhruv|
Combat in Kargil highlighted the requirement of an attack helicopter specially made for such high altitude operations. In 2006, HAL announced its plans to design and build the LCH; funds for designing and developing the LCH to meet the requirements of the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force were sanctioned in October 2006.
The LCH is a derivative of the HAL Dhruv, which was inducted into the Indian armed forces. Basing on an existing helicopter is expected to greatly reduce LCH project costs, which is estimated at 376 crore (US$59.0 million). The Indian Air Force is to acquire 65 LCHs and Indian Army is to acquire 114 LCHs.
The first prototype of LCH completed its first ground run on 4 February 2010. HAL has a firm order to deliver 65 LCH to the IAF and 114 to the Army. HAL has performed the maiden flight of its LCH on 29 March 2010. The first LCH Technology Demonstrator (TD-1) flew a 20-minute flight from HAL's Helicopter Complex, Bengaluru. It carried out low speed, low altitude checks on the systems on board. The crew reported that the performance of the helicopter and systems were satisfactory.
The third test flight of the LCH was successfully made on 23 May 2010; it fulfilled the desired parameters and allowed for further armed tests to proceed. The second prototype, fitted with weaponry, was unveiled at Aero India 2011 in February 2011. The second LCH prototype (TD-2) featured substantial weight reductions over the earlier TD-1. Ashok Nayak, chairman of HAL, stated that the project has exceeded human and payload requirements mandated by IAF for the development. Light Combat Helicopter TD-2 achieved its first flight on 28 June 2011. Two more prototypes are under construction to speed up its induction into the Indian Air Force.
On 1 July 2012, the LCH begin a series of trials near Chennai; amongst other elements, the LCH's air speed measurement system will be trialled and various component stresses gauged measured. The third prototype of the LCH is about to be delivered and is expected to be different from the LCH-1 and LCH-2. The third prototype is said to be significantly lighter than its predecessors.
The LCH second prototype, TD-2 completed sea level trials conducted in late June to early July 2012. The trials covered helicopter performance, loads measurement, and handling qualities.
The LCH was expected to be ready for the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) by December 2010 with the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) in 2011. However, the revised timeframes for LCH should be ready for induction into IAF by 2012–2013.[dated info]
The LCH third prototype, TD-3 made its successful maiden flight on 12 November 2014. The flight was piloted by Wg Cdr Unni Pillai and co-piloted by Gp Capt SHK Nair. It took off at 15.20 hrs and flew for 20 minutes.
The LCH fourth prototype, TD-4 is planned for its first flight in early 2015. ₹ 126 crore (US$20.2 million) is sanctioned for TD-4 development and structural build of the platform is already ready.
The LCH is being designed to fit into an anti-infantry and anti-armour role and will be able to operate at high altitudes. It has a maximum weight of 5.5 tonnes, and has a service ceiling of 6,500 metres. The LCH design features a narrow fuselage with stealth profiling, armour protection, and will be equipped to conduct day-and-night combat operations. According to reports, the LCH features a digital camouflage system. The LCH has a two-crew cockpit. The helicopter will be equipped with helmet-mounted targeting systems, electronic warfare systems and advanced weapons systems.
Dr Prasad Sampath, general manager of HAL's Rotary Wing Research & Design Centre, told the press during Aero India 2011 that the LCH was ‘probably the most agile design in the world because of its rotor'. Like the Dhruv, it is powered by the HAL/Turbomeca Shakti turbo-shaft engine.
Cockpit and avionics
The LCH is to have a glass cockpit with multifunction displays, a target acquisition and designation system with FLIR, Laser rangefinder and laser designator. Weapons will be aimed with a helmet mounted sight and there will be an electronic warfare suite with radar warning receiver, laser warning receiver and a missile approach warning system. The two pilots in the LCH sit one behind the other, compared to side-by-side in the Dhruv. All the flight controls, the hydraulics and the fuel system had to be redesigned for the LCH.
The LCH's modern sensor suite, developed in cooperation with Israel, consists of a CCD Camera, forward-looking infrared imaging sensors and a laser range finder to facilitate target acquisition in all weather conditions, including at night. The EW suite has been procured from SAAB, South Africa.
The helicopter is to be fitted with a data link for network-centric operations facilitating the transfer of mission data to the other airborne platforms and ground stations operating in the network, facilitating force multiplication.
LCH is intended for use in air defence against slow moving aerial targets (e.g. aircraft and UAVs), Counter Surface Force Operation (CSFO), destruction of enemy air defence operations, escort to special heliborne operations (SHBO), Counter-insurgency operations (COIN), offensive Employment in Urban Warfare, support of combat search and rescue operations (SAR) operations, anti-tank role and scout duties. It will also be capable of high-altitude warfare (HAW) since its operational ceiling will be 6,000–6,500 metres (19,700–21,300 ft).
Data from Globalsecurity
- Crew: 2
- Length: 15.8 m (51 ft 8 in)
- Rotor diameter: 13.3 m (43 ft 6 in)
- Height: 4.7 m (15 ft 4 in)
- Disc area: 138.9 m² (1,472 ft²)
- Max. takeoff weight: 5,800 kg (12,787 lb)
- Powerplant: 2 × HAL/Turbomeca Shakti turboshaft, 1,067 kW (1,430 shp) each
- Never exceed speed: 330 km/h (178 knots, 207 mph)
- Maximum speed: 268 km/h (145 knots, 167 mph)
- Range: 700 km (297 nmi, 342 mi)
- Service ceiling: 6,500 m (21,300 ft)
- Disc loading: 39.59 kg/m² (8.23 lb/ft²)
- Power/mass: 327 W/kg (0.198 hp/lb)
- Guns: 1 × 20 mm M621 cannon on Nexter THL-20 turret
- Hardpoints: 4 (two under each wing) and provisions to carry combinations of:
- Related development
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- Related lists
- "Indigenous combat chopper takes to skies". Zeenews.com. 23 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-21.
- http://www.defenceaviation.com/2010/04/indias-light-combat-helicopter.html Light Combat Helicopter
- "Indigenous attack copter ready for first flight – India – DNA". Dnaindia.com. 8 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-21.
- HAL to flight test LCH prototype next month
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- "India flies second high altitude Light Combat Helicopter prototype". The Times of India. n.d.
- "..:: India Strategic ::.. India flies second LCH". Retrieved 6 February 2015.
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