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India's Light Combat Helicopter inducted into service

Senior defence officials and officers inducted the HAL Light Combat Helicopter Prachanda into service on 3 October 2022. From left: Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari (chief of Air Staff), Air Marshal Vikram Singh (air officer commanding-in-chief of South Western Air Command), Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, and Chief of Defence Staff General Anil Chauhan. (Janes/Akhil Kadidal)

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has inducted the first production units of the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the air force.

The attack helicopter was inducted into service with the official name of ‘Prachanda' by India's Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at Jodhpur Air Force Station on 3 October. The IAF said it has raised a new unit to operate the helicopters. This unit, known as No 143 Helicopter Unit (HU), was raised on 1 June 2022, according to the IAF.

The IAF added that the first LCH was handed over to the unit on 18 July 2022. The first LCH subsequently arrived at Jodhpur Air Force Station on 3 September.

The IAF has ordered an initial batch of 10 helicopters. The army has ordered five, according to previous announcements by India's Ministry of Defence (MoD). The HAL chairman and managing director (CMD), C B Ananthakrishnan, said during the induction ceremony that HAL has delivered four LCHs No 143 HU.

“Till date, a total of eight helicopters have been produced [by HAL]. The balance of the helicopters will be delivered [to the IAF] during the current financial year – that is before 31 March 2023,” he said. Ananthakrishnan added that HAL had initiated the limited series production of the 15 helicopters on its “own initiative with internal funding”.

Speaking to Janes , IAF officers of the 32 Wing at Jodhpur Air Force Station said

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