India operationally deploys two LCH prototypes near disputed border with China

by Rahul Bedi

India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has deployed two Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) prototypes in support of Indian Air Force (IAF) operations in the country’s Himalayan region of Ladakh near the Line of Actual Control (LoAC) where the Indian and Chinese armies have been locked in a standoff since early May.

An LCH prototype in Ladakh near India’s disputed border with China. Manufacturer HAL announced on 12 August that it deployed two LCH prototypes to the region in support of IAF operations. (HAL)

An LCH prototype in Ladakh near India’s disputed border with China. Manufacturer HAL announced on 12 August that it deployed two LCH prototypes to the region in support of IAF operations. (HAL)

One of these twin-engined multirole rotorcraft conducted a simulated attack on a high-altitude target, after which it landed at “one of the most treacherous helipads in the region”, said HAL in a 12 August statement without identifying the exact location for security reasons.

The company added that the locally designed, 5.5 tonne helicopter demonstrated its “quick deployment prowess to forward locations in extreme [freezing] temperatures”.

Official sources told Janes that the move also confirmed the LCH’s ability to operate day and night at altitudes over 4,000 m.

In February HAL inaugurated a facility in Bangalore to build 15 LCHs by the end of 2020 as part of a limited series production run. A total of 10 of these platforms would be for the IAF and five for the Army Aviation Corps (AAC). Thereafter, the AAC is expected to order 114 LCH’s and the IAF 65 helicopters.

Powered by two Shakti turboshaft engines the LCH has a maximum payload of 500 kg, an operational range of 550 km, and a service ceiling of 6.5 km, the latter of which enables it to operate in the 4,700 m-high Siachen Glacier in the Himalayas in support of Indian Army troops in the region.

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India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has deployed two Light Combat Helicopter (LC...

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