The Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), indigenously designed and developed by State-owned aviation major Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), has achieved a major milestone by successfully carrying out air-to-air missile firing on a moving aerial target.
This is the first time in the country that a helicopter has carried out air-to-air engagement, says HAL Chairman and Managing Director, R Madhavan. None of the helicopters with the military services in the country has demonstrated such a capability. With this, LCH has successfully completed all weapon integration tests and is ready for operational induction, he adds. During the tests conducted at the integrated test range in Chandipur, Odisha recently, the missile fired achieved a direct hit on the aerial target, destroying it completely. The trial was executed by Wg Cdr Subash P John, VM (Retd), test pilot, Col Ranjit Chitale, (Retd), Flight Test Engineer from HAL and Gp Capt Rajeev Dubey, a test pilot from the Indian Air Force. Other weapons on the LCH platform include a 20 mm Turret gun and 70 mm Rockets, the firing trials of which have already been completed last year.
LCH is arguably the only attack helicopter in the world capable of operating at altitudes as high as the Siachen Glacier. Designed and developed by Rotary Wing Research & Design Centre (RWRDC) of HAL in response to the operational needs of IAF, LCH’s capabilities far exceed that of contemporary attack helicopters of its class, says HAL. Equipped with helmet-mounted sight and a forward-looking infrared sighting system, LCH pilots can now detect and destroy any target on the ground or in the air. Using these sights, pilots can launch a missile onto any target without having to turn the helicopter. The fire and forget missile is effective against all types of aerial threat, including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and microlight aircraft. Capable of operating from dispersed locations and flying at ultra-low levels, LCH can now effectively provide a protective umbrella from all aerial threats.