skip to main content

Delayed development: India's LCH inducted after two decades of work

The Indian Air Force inducted its first Light Combat Helicopter on 3 October 2022. The helicopter's EO-IR pod in the nose, which was previously concealed, is in operational mode. (Janes/Akhil Kadidal )

India's induction of the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) on 3 October 2022 is the culmination of a project that is more than two decades old.

Originally debuted as a model during the Paris Air Show in June 2001, the helicopter underwent a series of design changes before it was deemed ready for production in 2017. Now entering service in limited numbers, the LCH is designed for mobile operations at low and high altitudes.

According to the manufacturer, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the LCH is a twin-engine, combat helicopter of the 5.8 ton class featuring a narrow fuselage and tandem configuration for the pilot and weapon systems operator (WSO).

β€œIt incorporates a number of stealth features such as reduced radar and infrared signatures and crashworthy landing gear, structure, [and] crew seats for better survivability,” HAL said.

Janes assessed onsite that the limited series production (LSP) aircraft being delivered to the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Army differ slightly in outward appearance from the four earlier prototypes. The LSP helicopters are equipped with new upward-pointing engine exhausts. This matches similar design changes made to China's Changhe Aircraft Industries Group (CHAIG) Z-10 Light Attack Helicopter (LAH) in 2020.

The repositioned exhausts are likely an effort to reduce the helicopter's infrared signature from the ground. HAL said that the airframe also makes greater use of composites to reduce the helicopter's radar signature. The helicopter has canted flat panels on the underside of the airframe to give the aircraft a low radar cross-section, according to the company.

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...