India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has carried out the first flight of a Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) using an indigenously developed Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS), the state-owned aerospace and defence company announced in a statement on 31 January.
“The maiden flight was flawless and [the helicopter] flew for 20 minutes with the engagement of the system throughout,” said HAL. It added that the indigenous AFCS was set to replace the imported system used in the long-delayed attack helicopter, which was still under development. The test was carried out on the LCH Technology Demonstrator-2 (TD-2).
The recently developed AFCS was described by the company as a “digital four-axis flight control system capable of performing control and stability augmentation functions and auto-pilot modes of helicopters”.
HAL also pointed out that it had indigenised the Integrated Architecture Display System (IADS) on the 5.8 tonne, twin-engine LCH with the participation of private Indian companies, adding that development flight-testing was being progressed.
HAL sources told Jane’s that fitting the LCH with both of these locally developed systems would “substantially” reduce the platform’s cost. The price negotiated for the first 15 LCHs ordered in December 2017 by the Army Aviation Corps (AAC) was INR2.31 billion (USD 3.39 million) per platform.
The AAC has indicated a requirement for 114 LCHs while the Indian Air Force (IAF) aims to receive 65.
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