JAISALMER: Under 'Make In India', Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has made attacking Light Combat Helicopter (LCH). The trial of its strike capabilities is going on at Pokhran Field Firing Range in Jaisalmer. Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Indian Air Force and HAL scientists are supervising the testing. During the trials, DRDO, Air Force and HAL officers and scientists are present who are checking the LCH on various parameters.

According to information from reliable sources this trial has been going on at the firing range for last one week under desert conditions. While the helicopter itself is being tested on different parameters, its firing capability is assessed from variable heights. Earlier similar trials were held at Siachen also.

The LCH had also participated in the IAF's Iron Fist 2016 exercise that was held in March 2016. Here it test-fired its weapons systems including missiles. Though the 5.5-ton helicopter is a multipurpose weapons platform, it is primarily an attack helicopter and can be used against enemy tanks, armoured personnel carriers, slow-moving aircraft, surface warships and even submarines.

The LCH can also be deployed in search and rescue missions and battlefield surveillance. It is different from combat version of ALH, Rudra, since Rudra can carry soldiers and has weapons in support role, LCH has a purely attack role with better manoeuverability, agility and armour and weapons. It has a better climb rate, is more stealthy and has better aerodynamics than Rudra and can function as a gunship.

Sources said HAL has custom-designed the 5.8 tonne LCH to provide fire support to the army at mountainous deployment areas on the northern borders, which can be as high as 6,000 metres (almost 20,000 feet). It has an operational ceiling limit of 6,000-6,500 meters (19,700-21,300 feet). At these rarefied altitudes, where the shortage of oxygen prevents troops from carrying heavy weapons into battle, the LCH will provide crucial fire support with its 20 millimetre turret gun, 70 millimetre rockets and, to be incorporated later, a guided missile.

Souce said LCH has demonstrated capability to land and take off from Siachen with considerable load, fuel and weapons that are beyond any other combat helicopter. The helicopter can carry out operational roles under extreme weather conditions at different altitudes from sea level, hot weather desert, cold weather and Himalayan altitudes.