Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd’s (HAL’s) first Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) which completed its maiden flight on March 29, 2010 is best suited to fulfill operational requirement of the Indian Army and the Air Force.
The Indian Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF) are likely to order 114 and 65 units respectively of the LCH appropriately named as ‘Tiger Bird’ for its strengths despite being light weight.
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had approved the proposal for an initial batch of 15 LCHs. The IAF issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for 15 Limited Series Production (LSP) helicopters (10 for IAF and 5 for Army) and HAL had submitted its response.
‘Tiger Bird’ Features
- Integrated dynamic system
- Hinge less main rotor and bearing-less tail rotor, which works in conjunction with an anti-resonance isolation system to dampen vibrations
- Tri-cycle crashworthy landing gear
- Tandem cockpit
- Self-sealing fuel tanks
- Aerofoil or cross sectional shaped stub wings for weapons, armour protection, Nuclear, Biological, Chemical (NBC) protection
- Low visibility features make the LCH ‘lethal, agile and survivable.’
The LCH is being developed as a dedicated attack helicopter derived from the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv and to be fitted with weapons and special mission systems and having a crashworthy wheel landing gear.
In addition to the primary anti-armour role, the rotary-wing platform will play critical roles of escort to Special Heliborne Operations (SHBO), HAL’s LCH support of Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) operations, and armed aerial scouting duties.
The production of the rotorcraft began in February 2020 at LCH Production Hangar established at HAL’s Helicopter Division in Bengaluru. The LCH draws many technical features from its closest alibi Dhruv including rotor system transmission, power plant, hydraulics, IADS and avionics.
Apart from these, there other added features that make the LCH one of its kind such as sleek and narrow fuselage, exterior covered by canted flat panels to minimise Radar Cross Section (RCS).
Considering its operational requirements, flight controls and hydraulics of Dhruv have been redesigned for the LCH. The helicopter is propelled by two HAL/Turbomeca Shakti-1H1 turboshaft engines fitted with Infra-Red (IR) suppressors, each of which can generate up to 871-kW and can operate up to 3,000-hours without maintenance.
It features a Full Authority Digital Electronic Control (FADEC) system, which decreases work of the pilot by automatically counting engine cycles.
The LCH has a cruise speed of 260 km/h, a maximum speed of 275 km/h and a climb rate of 12 m/s to a service ceiling of 6,500 m. LCH has an operational range of 550 km and a ferry range of 700 km.
Currently, owing to the recent tussle happening along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has deployed two Light Combat Aircraft at high altitude in Leh.
“It is the lightest attack helicopter in the world designed and developed by HAL to meet the specific and unique requirements of Indian Armed Forces reflecting the crucial role of HAL in Atma Nirbhar Bharat”, R Madhavan, CMD, HAL said.