Giant step towards self-defence

With the induction of the first fleet of the indigenously-built Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), India has taken another giant step towards the effort of self-sustainability in the defence sector. The combat helicopter, developed by public sector aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), is a shot in the arm for the ‘Make in India’ initiative in the defence sector and reflects the country’s capabilities in defence production. For a long time India’s armed forces had to depend on foreign imports for defence preparedness.
After the Kargil war, successive governments have made sincere efforts to encourage domestic production of defence requirements.
The latest four 5.8-tonne twin-engine gunship choppers – armed with air-to-air missiles, 20-mm turret guns, rocket systems and other weapons – have been developed mainly for mountain warfare. The helicopters are expected to bolster Indian Air Force’s air power as they are capable of carrying out strikes on the enemy’s infantry, tanks, bunkers and drones in high-altitude areas, besides being well equipped for counter-insurgency operations. Christened as ‘Prachand,’ the first batch of four LCHs was inducted into the IAF’s Jodhpur Air Force Station. The design, integration and equipment are entirely indigenous.
Over the next several years, the LCH will be the bedrock of attack helicopter formations in the Indian Army and the IAF. It has a number of stealth features, armored-protection systems, night attack capability and crash-worthy landing gear for better survivability. The agility and maneuverability make the LCH an appropriate choice for mountain warfare as it can take off and land with a payload even at 16,000 feet.