HAL has announced that the Light Combat Helicopter has completed weapon trials and is ready for operational induction.
HAL has announced that the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) has completed weapon trials, folowing a successful air-to-air missile firing against a moving aerial target. The missile is reported to have achieved a direct hit on the aerial target, destroying it completely.
According to the manufacturer, this is the first time that a helicopter has carried out air to air missile engagement in India. The company says that none of the helicopters in service with the Indian forces has demonstrated such a capability.
HAL chairman R Madhavan says that the LCH has successfully completed all weapon integration tests and is ready for operational induction. Other weapons on the LCH include a 20mm turret gun and 70mm rockets, the firing trials of which started in 2016 and were completed last year.
LCH is a 5.5t class combat helicopter designed and developed by HAL. It is powered by two Shakti engines — a licence-built version of the Safran Ardiden — and inherits many technical features of the Advanced Light Helicopter.
The Indian firm claims that the LCH is the only attack helicopter in the world capable of operating at altitudes as high as the Siachen glacier in the Himalayas. Indian Army forward bases are located at an altitude of 5,400m.
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has approved procurement of an initial batch of 15 LCHs (10 for the Indian Air Force and 5 for the Army). HAL received an RFP for a second production batch in January 2018.