THE INDIAN-MADE LCH ‘PRACHAND’

  • The Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) is the only attack helicopter in the world that can land and take off at an altitude of 5,000 metres (16,400 ft).
  • The helicopter can fly at a maximum speed of 288 kmph and has a combat radius of 500 km, which can go up to a service ceiling of 21,000 feet, making it ideal to operate in Siachen.
  • It incorporates several stealth features such as reduced radar and infra-red signatures.
  • It can be deployed to perform Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), bunker busting operations, counter-insurgency operations in the jungle and urban areas and support the ground forces.

Background

  • The indigenously developed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) Prachand, meaning fierce, was formally inducted into the Indian Air Force at the Jodhpur airbase on Monday.
  • The multi-role attack helicopter has been customised as per the requirements of the Indian armed forces to operate both in desert terrains and high-altitude sectors.
  • The LCH is the only attack helicopter in the world that can land and take off at an altitude of 5,000 metres (16,400 ft). It is also capable of firing a range of air-to-ground and air-to-air missiles.

LCH project

  • The LCH project can be traced to the 1999 Kargil war when the armed forces felt the need for a dedicated platform capable of operating at high altitudes and delivering precision strikes as the existing attack choppers couldn’t effectively hit targets.
  • In October 2006, the government sanctioned the design and development of the LCH. The Indian Army joined the programme in December 2013.
  • The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) built four LCH prototypes flight-tested them with over 1,600 total flights logging 1,239 flight hours.
  • The ground run was first carried out in February 2010 and the first prototype ‘TD-1’ took its maiden flight on March 29, 2010, as the crew carried out low-speed, low-altitude checks on the systems.
  • After extensive flight testing in diverse terrains and weather conditions, the LCH received initial operation clearance on August 26, 2017.
  • It was declared ready for production in February 2020. A year later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi handed over the LCH to the Indian Air Force.
  • Earlier this year, the Cabinet Committee on Security, headed by PM Modi approved the procurement of 15 limited series production (LSP) variants at a cost of ₹3,887 crore — 10 for the IAF and five for the Indian Army.
  • The Indian Army formally inducted its first Light Combat Helicopter on September 29.

Main features of LCH

  • Powered by twin Shakti engines, a collaborative effort of the HAL and France’s Safran company, the LCH is a 5.8-tonne class combat helicopter with potent ground attack and aerial combat capability.
  • The helicopter can fly at a maximum speed of 288 kmph and has a combat radius of 500 km, which can go up to a service ceiling of 21,000 feet, making it ideal to operate in Siachen.
  • It incorporates several stealth features such as reduced radar and infra-red signatures, crashworthy features for improved survivability, armoured-protection systems and night attack capability.
  • The induction of the LCH into the Air Force has been termed as a “big boost” to the combat prowess of the armed forces and a “potent platform to meet the operational requirements of the IAF and the Army”.
  • The LCH helicopters can be deployed to assume air defence, anti-tank roles in high-altitude, counter-insurgency, and search and rescue operations, and are equipped with advanced technology which can be used to destroy the enemy’s air defence, as per HAL.
  • It can be deployed to perform Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), bunker busting operations, counter-insurgency operations in the jungle and urban areas and support the ground forces,
  • As per HAL, the Indian armed forces have an overall requirement of 160 LCH — 95 for Army and 65 for Air Force.
  • The fleet of first four helicopters was inducted into the 143 Helicopter Unit ‘Dhanush’. The helicopters are likely to be deployed along the Line of Actual Control along with Apache choppers.

SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB

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