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India Launches $500 Mln Program to Acquire 15 Light Combat Helicopters

© AFP 2022 / HO / MINISTRY OF DEFENCEThis handout photograph released by the Ministry of Defence on February 20, 2013, shows a HAL "Black Tiger" Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) performing a flypast during a full dress rehearsal for the Indian Air Force's Iron Fist 2013 military exercicse in Pokhran, near Jaisalmer in India's Rajasthan state, on February 19, 2013
This handout photograph released by the Ministry of Defence on February 20, 2013, shows a HAL Black Tiger Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) performing a flypast during a full dress rehearsal for the Indian Air Force's Iron Fist 2013 military exercicse in Pokhran, near Jaisalmer in India's Rajasthan state, on February 19, 2013 - Sputnik International
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5.5-ton light combat helicopters will provide crucial air support to the armed forces deployed along the border with China as they have the power to carry out operational roles under extreme weather conditions at altitudes of up to 20000 meter in the difficult Himalayan terrain.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — The Indian government has ordered fifteen locally developed Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) for fulfilling urgent requirements of the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army. These will be manufactured at the Bengaluru facility of Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) which was inaugurated by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this year.

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The selling point of the twin-engine LCH is that they are not only lighter compared to the American AH-64E Apache attack helicopters but also come at half the price i.e. $35 million per unit.

"HAL has received a Request for Proposal (RFP) for 15 Limited Series LCH from the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Army today. This comes close on the heels of HAL receiving RFP for the supply of 83 LCAs (Light Combat Aircraft) just days ago," HAL said in a statement.

The current version of the helicopters lack sophisticated fire control radar like that of the Apache but HAL has promised to locally develop such radars at a later stage.

The 5.5-ton class LCH is capable of carrying eight French-made Mistral air-to-air missiles, 20mm guns, unguided rockets, cluster bombs, grenade launchers and anti-radiation missiles.

"The helicopter can carry day/night targeting systems for the crew including the helmet pointed sight and electro-optical pod consisting of CCD camera, FLIR, laser rangefinder and laser designator," Gopal Sutar, HAL spokesperson said.

This handout photograph released by the Ministry of Defence on February 20, 2013, shows a HAL Black Tiger Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) performing a flypast during a full dress rehearsal for the Indian Air Force's Iron Fist 2013 military exercicse in Pokhran, near Jaisalmer in India's Rajasthan state, on February 19, 2013 - Sputnik International
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Its high-performance night fighting ability makes it capable of targeting enemy tanks from up to four kilometers away. The LCH can also destroy unmanned aerial vehicles, slow-moving aircraft, and armored and infantry combat vehicles. Furthermore, the LCH is fitted with self-protection suite consisting of radar/laser missile warning systems and countermeasures dispensing system.

Presently, four technology demonstrators are flight testing the LCH following which the flight's air-to-air missile testing capability would be ascertained.

The LCH has the distinction of being the first attack helicopter to land in the forward bases at Siachen, 5400 meters above sea level.

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