Air Platforms

Aero India 2015: Third LCH prototype breaks cover with new paintjob

23 February 2015

The third prototype of HAL's Light Combat Helicopter was on show at Aero India 2015. Source: IHS/James Hardy

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) displayed the third prototype of its Light Combat Helicopter in a new camouflage pattern at Aero India 2015 in Bangalore.

The LCH is designed for anti-tank operations, close air support to ground forces as a battlefield scout and for anti-submarine and anti-surface vessel warfare. The third prototype is the final design for the programme, HAL officials at the show told IHS Jane's.

The major changes from the previous prototypes - both of which were also displayed in Bangalore - include a redesigned cockpit canopy; an Elbit Compact Multi Purpose Advance Stabilisation System (CoMPASS) electro-optic/infrared turret that is integrated into the nose; a length that is about 75 mm than the previous two platforms; and a maximum speed of 268 kph.

The CoMPASS is a day-and-night surveillance system that includes a colour TV daylight camera, third generation 3-5 µm forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensor; laser target designator and rangefinder; and automatic tracking capabilities. It is being license built in India by Bharat Electronics Limited.

Like the weaponised Advanced Light Helicopter (Dhruv - known in this format as the Rudra) the LCH's weapon suite includes a 20 mm French Giat-Nexter turret gun, four 70 mm anti-tank guided missiles supplied by FZ of Belgium and MBDA Mistral-2 air-to-air missiles.

Its EW warfare suite is being provided by Saab South Africa while India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is still working on developing the Helina anti-tank missile, a derivative of the locally designed Nag (Snake) anti-tank missile that has an extended 7 km range.

While the LCH is expected to be operated by all three services, the Army Aviation Corps has the greatest requirement for around 180 platforms.

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