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Light Combat Helicopter clears flight trials

Light Combat Helicopter

Jodhpur: The Light Combat Helicopter (LCH)–3, a versatile combat chopper developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), has successfully completed the hot weather flight trials in Jodhpur.

The chopper, currently under testing phase, cleared the test yesterday, paving way for the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC), expected by the end of this year and is likely to enter production from 2017-18.

“The week long test flight schedule of the LCH was carried out in the temperature range of 39 to 42 degree Celsius,” said an IAF official.

The third technology demonstrator (TD-3) of LCH was ferried from Bengaluru to Jodhpur for the trials.

Pilots from the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army, along with the representatives of certification teams, were present during the trial.

According to IAF officials, the chopper has already completed cold weather flight tests at Leh in February this year and the hot weather test was due for June in Rajasthan.

“The LCH was subjected to temperature survey of engine bay, temperature survey of hydraulic system, assessment of performance, verifying the handling qualities and loads at different AUWs (all up weights), checking low-speed handling capabilities and capturing the height-velocity diagram establishment,” the official said.

Light Combat Helicopter’s third trial aircraft (LCH TD-3) made its first flight in November last year, marking a new milestone in the development of an indigenous attack helicopter that can fight in the country’s treacherous and mountainous fronts of north and east.

According to IAF officials, the need for a versatile combat copter was strongly felt after the 1999 Kargil attack, which could provide air defense amidst mountains, against slow-moving targets, as air escort, in urban warfare, counter-insurgency and anti-tank operations.

“LCH-3 will be test flown continuously for further evaluations, especially with weapons in high altitudes and mountainous areas. Later it would be used to fire with a turret gun and rocket,” the officials said.

A modest optional substitute of LCH is the Rudra, a weaponized version of HAL’s multi-use Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH).

Rudra has a relatively limited defensive role compared to the combat-ready LCH.

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