New Delhi (Sputnik) — India's state owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has begun production of light combat helicopters (LCH) which are equipped with a 20 mm turret gun, 70 mm rocket, air to air missile, electro optical pod and helmet pointing system.
The production formally commenced on Saturday in Bengaluru in the presence of Defense Minister Arun Jaitley. The LCH is entirely locally designed and developed by HAL.
"The LCH has demonstrated the capability to land and take off from Siachen range with considerable load, fuel, and weapons that are beyond the capacity of any other combat helicopter," HAL said in a statement.
In November this year, Indian defense ministry had approved a fund of approximately $450 million for the procurement of 15 LCHs as a "limited series production" (LSP) order. The light combat helicopter is pegged at around $35 million per unit which is less than half the cost of American AH-64E Apache attack helicopters.
"We are moving in the right direction in evolving ourselves into a major manufacturing hub. In this context today's experience has been encouraging", Arun Jaitley said.
The twin-engine LCH features narrow fuselage and tandem configuration for pilot and co-pilot/ weapon system operator. It is powered by French Safran-designed helicopter engines Shakti. Shakti is the Indian designation for the Safran's Ardiden 1, co-developed with HAL and produced under license.
"The helicopter has indigenous state of the art technologies like integrated dynamic system, bearing less tail rotor, anti-resonance vibration isolation system, crash worthy landing gear, smart glass cockpit, hinge-less main rotor, armor protection and stealth features from visual, aural, radar and IR signatures," HAL added.