HAL – LIGHT COMBAT HELICOPTER

The HAL Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) is a multirole combat helicopter being developed in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for use by the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army.

Development
In 2006, HAL announced its plans to build a LCH. Funds for the design and development of the LCH to meet the requirements of the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force were sanctioned in October 2006.
The LCH is a derivative of the HAL Dhruv, which was inducted into the Indian armed forces. Using a successful and proven helicopter as the base platform is expected to conserve the project costs for the LCH, which is pegged at Indian Rupee ₹8.76 billion (US$190.1 million).
The LCH was expected to be ready for the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) by December 2010 with the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) in 2011. However, the revised timeframes hold that the 5.5-tonne LCH should be ready for induction into IAF by 2012-2013.
The first prototype of LCH completed its first ground run on February 4.HAL has a firm order to deliver 65 LCH to the IAF and 114 to the Army.
HAL has performed the maiden flight of its indigenously designed and developed LCH. The first Technology Demonstrator (TD-1) of the LCH flew the 20 minute flight from HAL’s Helicopter Complex, Bangalore on 29 March 2010. This flight provided an opportunity to carry out low speed, low altitude checks on the systems on-board. The crew reported that the performance of the helicopter and systems was satisfactory.

Design
The LCH incorporates stealth features and crash landing gear for survivability. The LCH will have a narrow fuselage, with two crew stations.

The LCH is being designed to fit into an anti-infantry and anti-armour role and will be able to operate at high altitudes (16,300 feet). HAL hopes to equip the Indian Air Force with about 65 gunships.[6] The helicopter is powered by the HAL/Turbomeca Shakti turboshaft engine. The helicopter will be equipped with helmet-mounted targeting systems, electronic warfare systems and advanced weapons systems.

In 2006, HAL selected the M621 cannon incorporated in a Nexter THL 20 turret for the gun armament of the helicopter, operated by a helmet mounted sight.[7][8] Three prototypes will be built. The second version will be fitted with weaponry before its test flight. The Indian Air Force will be provided with the third prototype for user trials.

The LCH is to have a glass cockpit with multifunction displays, a target acquisition and designation system with FLIR, Laser rangefinder and laser designator. Weapons will be aimed with a helmet mounted sight and there will be an electronic warfare suite with radar warning receiver, laser warning receiver and a missile approach warning system.

The helicopter is be fitted with a data link for network-centric operations facilitating the transfer of mission data to the other airborne platforms and ground stations operating in the network,facilitating force multiplication.

With these features, the LCH is expected to play a major role in air defence against slow moving aerial targets, destruction of enemy air defence operations, escort to special heliborne operations, support of combat search and rescue operations, anti-tank role and scout duties.

The two pilots in the LCH sit one behind the other, compared to side-by-side in the Dhruv. All the flight controls, the hydraulics and the fuel system had to be redesigned for the LCH. The LCH’s many stealth features also necessitated redesigning the fuselage.

Operational history
The LCH TD-1 made its first flight on March 29, 2010. The second flight took place on April 28, 2010 at 15:30 hrs. As per HAL Press release, over 20 Test flights have been conducted to check various flight parameters.The third test flight of the LCH was successfully made on 23 May 2010 and it fulfilled the desired parameters and also paves the way for further testing with weapons. As of 17 December 2010 TD-1 has logged 50 hours of flight. The second prototype which will be weaponized with more sub-systems will be unveiled at Aero India 2011 in February 2011. Two more prototypes are under construction to speed up the process of its induction into the Indian Air Force in the year 2012.

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 15.8 m (51 ft 8 in)
  • Rotor diameter: 13.3 m (43 ft 6 in)
  • Height: 4.7 m (15 ft 4 in)
  • Disc area: 138.9 m² (1,472 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 2,250 kg (5,975 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 3,800 kg (8,405 lb)
  • Useful load: 3,350 kg (7,410 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 5,800 kg (12,825 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × HAL/Turbomeca Shakti turboshaft, 1,067 kW (1,430 shp) each

Performance

  • Never exceed speed: 330 km/h (178 knots, 207 mph)
  • Maximum speed: 275 km/h (148 knots, 171 mph)
  • Cruise speed: 260 km/h (140 knots, 161 mph)
  • Range: 700 km (297 nmi, 342 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 6,500 m (21,300 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 12 m/s (2,362 ft/min)
  • Disc loading: 39.59 kg/m² (8.23 lb/ft²)
  • Power/mass: 327 W/kg (0.198 hp/lb)

Armament

  • Guns: M621 20 mm cannon on Nexter THL-20 turret
  • Rockets: Unguided rockets
  • Missiles: MBDA air-to-air missiles
    Air-to-surface missiles
    Anti-radiation missiles
    Helina anti-tank missile
  • Bombs: Gravity bombs
    cluster bombs
    grenade launchers                                                                                                                                                               @India Defence
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