The Indian Air Force (IAF) will induct the first batch of indigenously developed Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) on Monday, bolstering its combat prowess as the multi-role platform can fire a variety of missiles and other weapons. The LCH, developed by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), is primarily intended for use in high-altitude environments. It will be inducted into the IAF at a ceremony in Jodhpur in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari.

‘Big Boost to IAF’: In a Twitter post, the defence minister said the induction of the new helicopters will be a “big boost" to the IAF’s “combat prowess". The 5.8-ton twin-engine helicopter has already completed various weapons firing tests, they said. “I would be in Jodhpur, Rajasthan tomorrow, 3rd October, to attend the Induction ceremony of the first indigenously developed Light Combat Helicopters (LCH). The induction of these helicopters will be a big boost to the IAF’s combat prowess. Looking forward to it," Singh tweeted.

In March, Modi Cabinet Had Approved the Procurement: In March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approved the procurement of 15 indigenously developed Limited Series Production (LSP) LCH at a cost of Rs 3,887 crore.

10 Choppers for IAF, 5 for Indian Army: The defence ministry had said 10 helicopters would be for the IAF and five will be for the Indian Army.

LCH Similar to ‘Dhruv’: The LCH has similarities with Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv. It has a number of stealth features, armoured-protection systems, night attack capability and crash-worthy landing gear for better survivability, officials said.

What are the LCH’s Features? The LCH is equipped with requisite agility, manoeuvrability, extended range, high altitude performance and all-weather combat capability to perform a range of roles including combat search and rescue (CSAR), destruction of enemy air defence (DEAD) and counter-insurgency (CI) operations. The helicopter can also be deployed in high-altitude bunker-busting operations, counter-insurgency operations in the jungles and urban environments as well as for supporting ground forces.

The helicopter can also be used against slow-moving aircraft and remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs) of adversaries. Officials said it would be a potent platform to meet the operational requirements of the IAF and the Indian Army.

Specially Made for Combat Roles: They said 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 the LCH for deployment in combat roles. Several key aviation technologies like a glass cockpit and composite airframe structure have been indigenised, they said. The future series-production version will consist of further modern and indigenous systems, they said.

Tested Under Stringent Conditions: Four LCH helicopters have already been accepted by the IAF. The officials said IAF plans to procure more LCH in the near future. “We are already working with DRDO and HAL to integrate new weapons on the helicopter," said one of the officials. The helicopter has been tested under stringent operating conditions including at sea level, in desert regions and in Siachen. In February 2020, it was declared ready for production.

Future Plans; The Army has a plan to acquire 95 LCH largely for a combat role in the mountains.