Indian light combat copter prototype fires weapon

Bengaluru, March 14 (IANS) The indigenously-built Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) prototype has fired 70mm rockets in weaponised configuration, state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) said on Monday.

“The initial rocket firing trials at Jaisalmer in Rajasthan recently demonstrated the integration of hardware and software, structural integrity and safe separation of rocket ammunition,” HAL chairman T. Suvarna Raju said in a statement here.

As a 5.5-tonne class combat chopper, powered by two Shakti engines, the multi-role LCH is an armoured version of the defence behemoth’s Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv, which is in service of the Indian Air Force and Indian Army since a decade.

“Integration of weapons such as rocket, 20mm turret gun (20 mm) and air-to-air missile on LCH will continue for more trials and certification,” Raju asserted.

After a maiden test flight in March 2010, the chopper’s second and third prototypes (technology demonstrators) completed outstation trials in cold and hot weather conditions at Leh in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir as well as desert region of and in high altitudes during September 2015.

“The trials give us confidence to carry out certification firing trials in April-May and participate in the IAF’s ‘Iron Fist 2016’ exercise on March 18.” Raju said.

The IAF will hold the fire power demonstration code named ‘Exercise Iron Fist’ at Pokharan in Rajasthan’s Thar desert on Friday.

The copter’s third technical demonstrator (LCH TD-3) is integrated with electro-optical system, solid state digital video recording system and 70mm rocket system in a glass cockpit software for firing.

The city-based HAL will manufacture the combat version at its second helicopter unit under construction near Tumakuru, about 70km from Bengaluru.

The helicopter will have day/night targeting systems for the crew, including the helmet pointed sight and electro-optical pod consisting of CCD camera.

The company has an order to deliver 65 LCH to IAF and 114 to the army.

With a sleek and narrow fuselage, the chopper’s other features are tri-cycle landing gear, crashworthy and self sealing fuel tanks, armour protection, nuclear and low visibility features, making it lethal, agile and survivable.

“LCH is the only attack helicopter, which can operate above 10,000 — 12,000 feet altitude with load of armament,” Raju added.

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