Defence minsiter Rajnath Singh takes sortie in light combat helicopter (LCH) ‘Prachand’ during its induction into Indian Air Force, at Jodhpur airbase on October 3 | ANI

In a major boost to India’s indigenisation efforts, the Indian Air Force (IAF) on October 3 inducted the first batch of made in India Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), named Prachand, at a ceremony in Jodhpur.

The induction ceremony was attended by defence minister Rajnath Singh, IAF chief air chief marshal VR Chaudhari and newly appointed chief of defence staff Gen Anil Chauhan.

The Light Combat Helicopter has been developed by aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd primarily designed for deployment in high-altitude regions.

The induction of the made-in-India helicopters is considered a big boost to the IAF’s combat prowess built indigenously since the platform can meet the operational requirements of the IAF.

Addressing the gathering, Rajnath Singh said: “Light combat helicopter is capable of dodging the enemies. It can carry a variety of ammunition and quickly deliver them to the place. The LCH fully meets the needs of our armed forces in different terrains. It is an ideal platform both for our army and air force.”

“The design and development of the LCH have been done in accordance with the needs of the modern battlefield. In various types of testing in its developmental stages, the LCH has shown its ability to deal with all challenges,” the minister added.

The 5.5-tonne class combat helicopter is powered by two Shakti engines and inherits many technical features of the advanced light helicopter.

The light combat helicopter has the distinction of being the first attached helicopter to land in forward bases at Siachen, 4,700 metres above sea level with a 500kg load.

In March, the cabinet committee on security under prime minister Narendra Modi had approved the procurement of 15 light combat helicopters (10 for IAF and 5 for the Indian army) at the cost of Rs 3,887 crore along with infrastructure sanctions worth Rs 377 crore.

Prachand is equipped with requisite agility, manoeuvrability, extended range, high altitude performance and around-the-clock, all-weather combat capability to perform roles of combat search and rescue, destruction of enemy air defence, counter insurgency, against slow-moving aircraft and remotely piloted aircraft, high altitude bunker busting operations and support to ground forces.

State-of-the-art technologies and systems compatible with stealth features such as reduced visual, aural, radar and IR signatures and crashworthiness features for better survivability have been integrated into LCH for deployment in combat roles catering to emerging needs for the next three to four decades, the defence ministry said.

Production of LCH will reduce import dependence on combat helicopters in the country.

Light combat helicopters are already in the import embargo list. With its versatile features built in for combat missions, LCH also has the export capability.


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