The indigenously designed and developed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) Prachanda has been inducted into the Indian Air Force and the Army. It is going to be a game changer during combat at high altitudes

The need for indigenous LCH was felt despite the fact that the US had offered the highly rated Apache helicopter.

To be able to understand its importance, let’s look at its features first. The LCH is very light. This helicopter weighs about six tons. In contrast, the Apache helicopter weighs about ten tonnes. Due to its low weight, the LCH can take off and land despite being loaded with its full quota of missiles and other weapons even in high altitude areas. The LCH attack helicopter can carry ‘Mistral’ air-to-air missiles and air-to-surface missiles specially sourced from France.

In LCH there are two pedestals of 12 rockets each. Each rocket measures of 70 mm each. Apart from this, there is a 20 mm gun mounted in the nose of the LCH, which is capable of firing in any direction in 110 degrees. All the features of the cockpit are displayed on the helmet of the pilot.

The LCH helicopter has several stealth features that makes it difficult for enemy radars to detect it. Apart from this, if the LCH is targeted by an enemy helicopter or fighter jet, then it is capable of dodging it and striking back. The entire body of the helicopter is armoured, due to which there will be very little effect of enemy firing on it. The rotors of the helicopter are capable of withstanding enemy fire.

LCH being extremely light and special rotors makes it easy to land on mountain heights. India had made up its mind to prepare the LCH indigenous attack helicopter since the Kargil war, because India did not have such an attack helicopter at that time. This helicopter is capable of destroying enemy bunkers by going at a height of 15,000 feet above sea level.

The LCH has been developed by HAL, an indigenous defence undertaking. The Cabinet Committee on Security, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had approved the purchase of 15 indigenous LCH helicopters in March this year. These helicopters have been purchased from HAL for Rs 3,387 crore. Of these, 10 helicopters are for the IAF and five are for the Indian Army.

The trial of LCH helicopters for the IAF was done from Siachen Glacier to the desert of Rajasthan. During this, a sufficient amount of fuel and its weapons were also engaged in the LCH. Even before formally joining the IAF, two LCH helicopters were deployed on the LAC adjoining Eastern Ladakh.

This meant a craft that could operate in very hot deserts and also in very cold high altitudes, in counter-insurgency scenarios to full-scale battle conditions. The LCH has the capabilities of combat roles such as destruction of enemy air defence, counter insurgency warfare, combat search and rescue, anti-tank, and counter surface force operations.

India has all types of topography to guard – ranging from desert and plains in the west, thickly forested and icy mountain peaks on the North East. On one hand the armed forces are battling insurgency and on the other hand hostile neighbours on both the fronts. In this situation, having a strong air cover is very important for the armed forces, especially the army.

While we have other choppers in our arsenal, the LCH will be a potent force while combating terrorists infiltrating through LOC or the Chinese army attempting another Galwan-like offensive. It will be very useful in spotting and destroying enemy bunkers hidden between mountains, which would be difficult for the fast-moving fighter jets and the heavy choppers.

Most importantly, being indigenously designed and built, the maintenance and any further changes in its design will be easily possible and we won’t be dependent on any third party. Going ahead, just like BrahMos and Akash missile system and the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, we could be seeing export orders for LCH Prachanda, which could boost our foreign exchange.