India test flies light combat chopper successfully


Bangalore : India has successfully flight tested a prototype of the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), designed and developed by the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), a top official said Tuesday.

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“The maiden test flight of the LCH Monday evening was successfully. Though it was a short haul lasting about 20 minutes, the performance was good,” HAL chairman and managing director Ashok Nayak told IANS.

The 5.5-tonne attack copter is a derivative version of HAL’s flagship product Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), christened Dhruv.

“We will be conducting more test flights to evaluate its various parameters at different altitudes and conditions. We are looking at reducing the weight considerably for better manoeuvrability,” Nayak said.

Made of lightweight composites, the LCH can operate at high altitudes up to 6,000 metres or 18,000 feet.

The prototype was flown with Shakti engine, developed by HAL in partnership with Turbomeca, the French manufacturer of aero engines for global aerospace majors.

“Plans to launch the flight trials of LCH have been going on over the last couple of months but got delayed due to reassessment of its various functions and flight control systems,” a official of the company’s copter division said.

HAL plans to hard-sell about 150-175 units of the LCH to the Indian defence services, mainly Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Army, which already operates the military version of Dhruv for various functions.

Senior officials of the company’s helicopter division and IAF were present at the HAL airport to witness the test fight.

The LCH will be equipped with a helmet-mounted targeting system, electronic warfare systems and advanced weapons systems.

The LCH will incorporate a number of stealth features and crash-worthy landing gear for better survivability. It will have a narrow fuselage, with two crew stations.