Defence Minister Rajnath Singh formally inducted the indigenously-developed Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) in the Indian Air Force at a ceremony held at Air Force Station, Jodhpur in Rajasthan. LCH would be inducted into the 143 Helicopter Unit. LCH has been named as ‘Prachanda’.
Addressing the ceremony, Mr. Singh said induction of LCH not only adds to the combat capability of the Air Force but is also a great leap towards the goal of Atmanirbhar Bharat. He added that the need for a combat helicopter was seriously felt during the Kargil War and LCH is a culmination of two decades of effort to address this need.
LCH has been developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). It is a state-of-the-art modern combat helicopter, primarily designed for deployment in high-altitude regions. LCH is the only attack helicopter in the world which can land and take-off at an altitude of 5,000 m with a considerable load of weapons and fuel.
This helicopter is powered by two Shakti engines and is equipped with stealth features, all-weather combat capability, armour protection, night attack capability, and crash-worthy landing gear. The narrow fuselage with tandem cockpit configuration makes LCH extremely maneuverable and agile. Stealth features like low radar cross section and minimal infrared signature allow it to go behind enemy lines undetected and attack with precision.
LCH has a range of 550 km and an operational ceiling of 6500 m. It is armed with air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, 70 mm rockets and a 20 mm gun. It boasts of a full glass cockpit, Electronic Warfare suite and helmet-mounted display for the flying crew.
LCH can perform a range of roles, including combat search and rescue, destruction of enemy air defence and counter-insurgency operations in the jungle and urban environments. The Cabinet Committee on Security approved the purchase of 15 indigenous LCH helicopters in March this year.
The induction of LCH in the Indian Air Force is expected to provide further impetus to Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan. Under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan, the government is encouraging indigenous design, development and manufacture of defence equipment in the country to reduce their import.