It was a red letter day to the country’s Make in India dreams on August2, 017 as the then Defence Minister Arun Jaitley dedicated Hawk-i to the nation besides launching full blown production of HAL designed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH).
The Indian Air Force and the Army have repeatedly raised the need for these combat helicopters which are essential for sustaining operations mounted by armoured columns and the infantry. A 5.8 ton category helicopter, the LCH is one of the first true attack helicopter being designed and manufactured by India.
The forces felt a great need for these armed helicopters during the Kargil episode, when most of the Air Force’s strike platforms miserably failed to operate in the treacherous heights. Conceived in 2006, LCH has been designed by in-house by HAL’s Rotary Wing R&D Centre at a cost of over INR 375 crores.
LCH is powered by a twin turboshaft engine and for offensive operations is equipped with 20mm Turret gun, 70 mm Rocket and Air to Air Missile. The EO-Pod and Helmet pointing system enhance the strike capabilities of the aircraft. The helicopter is capable of carrying out operational roles under extreme weather conditions at different altitudes from sea level, hot weather desert, cold weather and Himalayan altitudes. The LCH has demonstrated the capability to land and take off from Siachen Range with considerable load, fuel and weapons that are beyond the capabilities of any other combat helicopter.
LCH features a narrow fuselage and tandem configuration for pilot and co-pilot/ weapon system operator. Reducing the workload of the pilots, are smart glass cockpit, hinge less main rotor, Armour Protection and stealth features from visual, aural, radar and IR signatures.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Jaitely hailed HAL’s confidence in bringing Hawk-i and LCH indigenously. He said DPSU work culture and performance have highest standards of professionalism. “We are moving in the right direction in evolving ourselves into a major manufacturing hub. In this context today’s experience has been encouraging”, he said.
While the IAF has raised a need for 65 of these choppers, the army plans to raise at least 8 armed helicopter squadrons structured around the LCH. In line with its plans, the army has firmly committed itself to at least 114 choppers. The DAC has in the past accorded approval for procurement of 15 LCH from HAL under IDDM category.
The dedication of the Hawk-I aircraft marks another success story for HAL. Designed and developed by the Mission & Combat System R&D Centre (MCSRDC) in association with the Aircraft Division, Hawk-I is the 100th Hawk jet trainer aircraft being produced by HAL.
HAL took up the indigenous role change development program to convert the jet trainer into a Combat-Ready platform. Introduction of indigenously designed avionics hardware, software and system architecture have enabled the platform to be successfully upgraded into a combat-ready aircraft.
The aircraft is capable of delivering precision Munitions including Air to Ground and close combat weapons, self defence capabilities through Electronic Warfare (EW) systems, digital map generator and operational reliability through new Dual Hot stand-by Mission Computer Avionics architecture.
The aircraft was flown during 2017 Aero India at Bangalore with lot of appreciation from users. The integration of indigenous HUD, RLG based INS and Anti-Airfield Missile is in advance stage.
Mr. Ashok Kumar Gupta, Secretary (Defence Production), outlined the contributions made by Defence PSUS. Mr. T. Suvarna Raju, CMD, HAL in his welcome address said that by maintaining its excellent track record, HAL has come-up with two new products that would strengthen India’s defence services.
These air assets, which the air force has been seeking for several years, promise to boost the preparedness status of the force across its operational horizon. Also, the eventual induction of these air assets will help the country in propelling forward with its mission to attain self-reliance in defence equipment manufacturing.