In a major boost to the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the first batch of indigenously-developed Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) named ‘Prachand’ was inducted into the Indian Air Force in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in Jodhpur on Monday.
The new Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Anil Chauhan was also present as Singh took a 20-minute sortie in the helicopter which will give a big boost to the IAF’s combat prowess.
As India continues to nurture its capability of indigenously designing, developing and manufacturing advanced cutting-edge technologies and defence systems, the induction of LCH marks another step towards self-reliance in the sector.
“There could not have been a better timing for LCH induction than Navratri and in the land of warriors, Rajasthan. For a long time, there was a need for attack helicopters and during the 1999 Kargil war, its need was felt seriously. The LCH is a result of research and development for two decades and its induction into IAF is an important milestone in defence production,” the Defence Minister said during his address at the induction ceremony.
It was in March earlier this year that the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approved the procurement of 15 LCH Limited Series Production (LSP) from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), 10 of which are for the Indian Air Force and the remaining five for the Indian Army.
The procurement of helicopters has been done at a cost of Rs 3,887 crore along with Infrastructure sanctions worth Rs 377 crore.
“The induction of indigenously developed LCH will increase the efficiency of IAF. It has always supported indigenously developed defence products like Marut, Light Combat Aircraft, Aakash Missile System, Advanced Light Helicopter and now LCH. It shows IAF’s trust towards indigenously design and development,” said Singh.
The Light Combat Helicopter Limited Series Production (LSP) is an indigenously designed, developed and manufactured state-of-the-art modern combat helicopter containing approximately 45% indigenous content by value which will progressively increase to more than 55% for SP Version.
“It was a smooth and comfortable flight in the indigenously built Light Combat Helicopter (LCH). It can fly from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, weather, and altitude. It has the capability to attack. Our motto is – make in India, make for the world,” the minister said after the sortie.
The helicopter is equipped with requisite agility, manoeuvrability, extended range, high altitude performance and around-the-clock, all-weather combat capability to perform roles of Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), Destruction of Enemy Air Defence (DEAD), Counter Insurgency (CI) operations, against slow-moving aircraft and Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAs), high altitude bunker busting operations, counter-insurgency operations in the jungle and urban environments and support to ground forces and would be a potent platform to meet the operational requirements of Indian Air Force and Indian Army.
“LCH is capable of dodging the enemy, carrying a variety of ammunition, and delivering it to the site quickly. LCH perfectly meets the needs of our armed forces in various terrains and it is an ideal platform for both our Army and Airforce,” Singh added.
It is also the only attack helicopter in the world that can land and take off at an altitude of 5,000 metres. State-of-the-art technologies and systems compatible with stealth features such as reduced visual, aural, radar and IR signatures and crashworthiness features for better survivability have been integrated into LCH for deployment in combat roles catering to emerging needs for the next 3 to 4 decades.
Several key aviation technologies like a glass cockpit and composite airframe structure have been indigenised. The future Series Production version will consist of further modern and indigenous systems.
It is believed that the manufacturing of LCH by HAL will give a further push to the initiative and boost the indigenisation of defence production and the defence industry in the country. Production of LCH will reduce import dependence on combat helicopters in the country. Light Combat Helicopters are already in the import embargo list. With its versatile features built-in for combat missions, LCH has the export capability.
“”For the nation’s security, it is the job of the government to ensure armed forces are equipped with the best equipment and platforms. Irrespective of the geopolitical scenario, it is their job to keep National security on alert… I can say with full confidence that in the coming time, India will be first whenever there is talk of superpowers including military power in the world,” the Defence Minister commented in Jodhpur today.