Indian aviation fraternity in general and HAL in particular is eager to witness another milestone event, when Honorable Defence Minister Shri A.K Antony will dedicate the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) to the nation on coming Sunday at HAL Airport. Indigenously developed and built by HAL in a record time, [and] a derivative of Advanced Light Helicopter (Dhruv), [the LCH] is an attack helicopter first of its kind in India.
It became [evident] for the MOD and Indian Air Force that the technologies acquired and developed on the Dhruv platform could be translated into developing a dedicated Light combat helicopter appended with newer technologies like low visibility features, Nuclear Biological and Chemical warfare protection, integration of the latest weapon systems, and electronic warfare suite. The HAL Fraternity expresses its gratitude to the nation, MOD and the Indian Air force for giving it yet another great opportunity in realizing this dream.
The LCH inherits many technical features of the Dhruv which includes the rotor system Transmission, power plant, Hydraulics, IADS, weapons system and Avionics. The features that are unique to LCH are Sleek & narrow fuselage, tri-cycle crashworthy landing gear, tandem cockpits, crashworthy & self sealing fuel tanks, aero foil shaped stub wings for weapons, armour protection, NBC protection and, low visibility features Which make the LCH lethal, agile and survivable.
LCH prototype development was based on the concept of design, ground testing and fabrication concurrently. This resulted in building the 1st machine within 40 months.
The design & manufacturing was carried-out using the state-of-art C.A.D/C.A.M facilities which obviated the requirement of an interface check rig. The ground testing included wind-tunnel testing, landing gear drop tests, and shake test.
A mock up was also built for evaluation by the Indian Air Force.
The development team included members of HAL, Indian Air Force, the certification authorities CEMILAC ,DGAQA and the various suppliers of the onboard systems.
Capability and Performance
LCH will be fitted with a 20 mm Turret gun and can carry Rockets, Air-to Air / Air-to-Ground missiles on the weapon stations.
The helicopter would have day/night targeting systems for the crew including the Helmet pointed sight and Electro-optical pod consisting of CCD camera/FLIR/Laser range finder/laser designator. The LRF & LD facilitate measurement of range to the target & guidance to the Laser guided Missiles respectively. A Digital Video Recorder would enable recording of the vital mission for debriefing purposes. The turret gun skewing is controlled by the helmet mounted sight of the gunner.
The LCH is fitted with Self Protection Suite consisting of Radar/Laser Missile warning systems and Countermeasures dispensing system. It is also planned to integrate IR/Laser missile jammer on the helicopter.
The helicopter would be fitted with a Data Link for Network-centric operations facilitating transfer of the mission data to the other airborne platforms and ground stations operating in the Network, thus facilitating force multiplication.
The machine is designed for low detection (visual, aural, radar & infra-red) and includes armour protection of critical areas. A 30 minute dry running capability of the gear box is a built in feature to survive after a ballistic hit to the transmission system. Crash-worthiness features are built into the wheel landing gear & structure.
Dual redundant systems also enhance the effectiveness of the helicopter in the battlefield environment.
The performance features of the LCH i.e. rate of climb, cruise speed, service ceiling are on par, if not better than other helicopter in its class like A129/Tiger and with bigger dedicated combat helicopters like Apache, Kamov 30 or Mi-35. LCH has all the makings of a winner in its class of helicopters.
Cost data ( Development cost, unit cost, maintenance cost & operating cost)
The development cost of LCH is very low compared to that of other helicopters in its class, ensuring lower unit costs compared to other attack helicopters. LCH design is optimized to ensure ease of maintenance with improved reliability of all the onboard systems to keep the operating costs low.
Self-reliance in such strategic machines forms an unequivocal requirement for India’s defence and products like the Dhruv & the LCH are missions in this direction. May the Light Combat Helicopter serve the nation for decades to come.