India's state-owned aerospace and defence company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is looking forward to producing around 30 Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) per annum, the company stated.
LCH is designed and developed indigenously for the first time in India. A. R. Madhvan, Chairman HAL, said that they are looking at a total order of 150 LCHs and can provide the 15 already ordered by Air Force within a year.
The company has got an order to manufacture 73 Mark 1-A, the new variant of the Tejas which will be more potent and effective than the previous Mark 1.
It is an addition to the 123 Mark 1 Tejas. Madhvan said that Mark 1 A will fly the first prototype by the middle of next year. "By March 2024 the first aircraft will be delivered," he said.
LCH is the only Attack Helicopter in the world which can land and take-off at an altitude of 5000 m (16400 ft) with considerable load of weapons and fuel meeting the specific requirements of Indian Armed Forces.
HAL has proactively initiated advance action towards launching the production activities of 15 LCH LSPs with internal funding. Material procurement for all the 15 helicopters have been completed. Three helicopters are ready for delivery to users and the balance helicopters are in advanced stages of production.
HAL has initiated various planning activities and has drawn a detailed master plan for achieving the peak rate production capacity of 30 helicopters per annum in order to cater to production of balance 145 LCHs.
As in other aircraft development, LCH is also being continuously upgraded with advancement of technologies. Improved Electronics Warfare (EW) Suite, Directional Infra-Red Counter Measure (DIRCM), Air to Ground Missile (ATGM), Data link, Anti-Radiation Missile (ARM), Bombs, Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) protection and Wire cutter are being incorporated.
Being a unique helicopter in this weight category and with this kind of capabilities, LCH is also expected to have a good export potential.
The LCH is a twin-engine, 5.8-ton class helicopter featuring narrow fuselage and tandem configuration for Pilot and Co-pilot/Weapon System Operator (WSO).
It incorporates number of stealth features such as reduced radar and infra-red signatures and crashworthy landing gear for better survivability. LCH incorporates advanced technologies and is designed to carry out roles such as Destruction of enemy air defence, Counter insurgency, Search and rescue, antitank, Counter Surface Force Operations etc.
LCH is a truly 'Make in India' product built with private industry participation. Production of LCH is envisaged through participation of public sector and private sector partners. More than 250 vendors are involved in manufacturing of components, assemblies, tools and test equipment and preparation of technical documentations apart from 70 vendors involved in indigenization of various items.
Post 1999 Kargil war, the need to have an effective helicopter weapons platform to deliver precision strikes at high altitude was felt by IAF.
The Design & Development of LCH was sanctioned by the Government during October 2006. Subsequently, Indian Army joined the programme during December 2013 leading to a total projected requirement of 160 LCHs.
"IAF issued Air Staff Qualitative Requirements during July 2016 for Limited Series Production (LSP) of LCH. Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) for LCH LSP for IAF was accorded by CEMILAC during August 2017 based on the compliance to ASQR. Subsequently, IOC for Indian Army was received from CEMILAC during February 2019," HAL said in a statement.
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