India’s Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), developed and manufactured by the Rotary Wing Research and Design Centre of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), recently achieved a significant development milestone by successfully conducting its first live air-to-air missile engagement against a moving target.

The test, conducted at the Chandipur integrated test range, achieved a direct hit, destroying the aerial target completely. “This is the first time in the country that a helicopter has carried out [an] air-to-air missile engagement. 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,” commented Shri R Madhavan from HAL’s Media Communications department.

Other weapons on the LCH include a 20mm turret-mounted gun and 70 mm rockets, firing trials for which were completed last year.
HAL claims that the LCH is the only attack helicopter in the world capable of operating at altitudes as high as the Siachen glacier, which at its highest point reaches 5,753m or nearly 18.000 feet. The aircraft was designed to meet the specific operational requirements of the Indian armed forces “and its capabilities far exceed that of contemporary attack helicopters of its class,” the company states.

Provided with a 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, without having to turn the helicopter. The ‘fire and forget’ missile is effective against all types of aerial threat, including UAS and microlight aircraft. Capable of operating from dispersed locations and flying at ultra-low levels, the LCH can now effectively provide a protective umbrella from all aerial threats.

The Indian government has issued approval for the acquisition of an initial batch of 15 LCH – 10 for the Air Force and 5 for the Army. (Photo: HAL)

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