A LCH equipped with rocket systems and missiles at the National Test Flight Centre, Bangalore

The Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) has been designed and developed by state-run plane-maker Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will handover locally produced military hardware, including the LCH, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and electronic warfare systems for warships, to the armed forces on November 19 at a function in Jhansi as part of celebrations to mark the 75th year of India’s independence, highlighting the government’s focus on achieving self-reliance in the defence sector.

PM Modi will hand over the LCH, designed and developed by state-run plane-maker Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), to Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari, and UAVs manufactured by local start-ups to army chief General MM Naravane, the defence ministry said in a statement on Monday. Defence minister Rajnath Singh will inaugurate the three-day event on November 17.

“LCH incorporates advanced technologies and stealth features and is designed to carry out roles such as destruction of enemy air defence, counter-insurgency, search and rescue and anti-tank operations. It is the only attack helicopter in the world which can land and take-off at an altitude of 5,000 m with a considerable load of weapons and fuel,” the statement said.

The HAL has not yet got the LCH contract from the defence ministry for supplying the helicopters to the IAF and army, but that has not stopped it from manufacturing the helicopters and delivering them to the two services. Its handing over to IAF indicates the contract will be signed soon.

The HAL is awaiting a contract for 15 limited series production (LSP) helicopters and expects follow-on orders as the IAF and the army have a combined projected requirement of 160 LCHs. Of the initial 15 LSP helicopters approved for purchase by the defence acquisition council (DAC) – India’s apex defence procurement body – 10 are for IAF and five for the army.

Modern Indian warships, including the indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant, will be equipped with the indigenous electronic warfare suite, marking a big step towards Atmanirbhar Bharat, the ministry said.

On November 19, the PM will also lay the foundation stone of a new ₹400-crore facility of Bharat Dynamics Ltd in the Jhansi node of the UP defence industrial corridor where the public sector firm will manufacture propulsion systems for anti-tank guided missiles.

The facility is expected to provide direct employment to 150 people and indirect employment to 500 people.

The PM’s participation in the event and his handing over the locally developed military equipment to the armed forces is a message to the world and the country that “we have taken giant steps towards self-reliance in defence,” said former Northern Army commander Lieutenant General BS Jaswal (Retd).

The government is encouraging self-reliance in the defence manufacturing sector through a slew of policy decisions, including increasing foreign direct investment (FDI) limit from 49% to 74%, notifying 209 defence items that cannot be imported and creating a separate budget for buying locally-made military hardware.

India has signed contracts and cleared projects worth almost ₹62,000 crore in the last two months to boost military capability with locally produced weapons and systems including transport planes, tanks, helicopters, airborne early warning systems and counter-drone weapons.

India has set aside ₹70,221 crore this year for domestic defence procurement, accounting for 63% of the military’s capital budget. Last year, the ministry spent over ₹51,000 crore, or 58% of the capital budget, on domestic purchases.

The line-up of events in Jhansi includes the PM dedicating to the country 100 new Sainik Schools that will be set up across India over the next two years. He will also launch the National Cadets Corps (NCC) alumni association. The PM, a former NCC cadet, will be inducted as the first member of the association, the ministry said.