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India to procure 15 Light Combat Helicopters

The Indian government has approved the procurement of 15 LCHs developed by HAL. (HAL)

India's Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has approved the procurement of 15 Light Combat Helicopters (LCHs) developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

The aircraft will be manufactured under a limited-series production run at a cost of INR38.87 billion (USD513.8 million). The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) added in a press statement that an additional INR3.77 billion had been approved for infrastructure.

Ten of the new aircraft are intended for the Indian Air Force (IAF), while five will go to the Indian Army. HAL said that the limited-series production variant will have an indigenous content of 45%. However, the regular-series production is expected to increase this content to 55%.

An HAL source told Janes that these content calculations are estimates based on the number of domestic vendors able to supply locally manufactured systems or components in the near future. “HAL is confident of increasing the indigenous content of the LCH because the firm has built up expertise in helicopters as opposed to the Tejas [fighter aircraft],” the source said.

Among the indigenised content of the limited-series production-run helicopters is the aircraft's glass cockpit system and composite airframe structure.

Powered by two Ardiden 1H1 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. In August 2020 HAL deployed two prototypes in the Himalayan region of Ladakh for operational trials with the army.

The MoD press note said that limited-series production versions of the attack helicopter also comprise technologies and systems compatible with stealth features such as “reduced visual, aural, radar, and infrared signatures”.

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