Exclusive: Light Combat Helicopter updates
The Certification of the LCH Will Involve Nearly 500 Test Flights Which Are Expected to be Completed in Two Years’
Chairman, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, Ashok Nayak
What is the importance of the maiden flight of Light Combat Helicopter (LCH)?
It is fructification of a new product. The design has been proven in this first flight. Given the extent of manoeuvres and the paces that the helicopter went through, it was a successful flight by any standards.
How many more test flights will take place?
The certification of the LCH will involve nearly 500 test flights which are expected to be completed in two years. I am expecting the Initial Operational Certificate (IOC) and the Full Operational Certificate (FOC) for the LCH in this time frame.
Media reports suggest that the weight of the LCH is more than that stipulated in the Air Staff Requirements (ASR). Are these true?
The weight of the LCH has been brought down substantially in the first prototype itself. By the time the third prototype takes place, we expect that the weight, which at present is 250kg more, to be fully compliant with the design parameters. The designers are already working on how to reduce the weight and optimise the machine.
How satisfied are you with the Shakti (called the Ardiden 1H by Turbomeca, is a turbo-shaft helicopter engine jointly developed by India and France, which also powers Dhruv ALH. The first test flight of the Dhruv ALH with the new Shakti engine took place on 16 August 2007) engine that powers the LCH?
The Shakti engine has been successfully tested in the high altitude areas, and the user is satisfied with its performance in the ALH. For this reason, Shakti was chosen for LCH to be a common engine for the two platforms. Needless to add, this gives a lot of advantages to the LCH and ALH.
What commonality does LCH share with ALH?
The commonalities are: transmission system, gearbox, blades, some of the avionics and cockpit layout.
Can you please give a run down on the LCH project since its inception?
The project was sanctioned sometimes in 2006. Right now, the infrastructure for this project is in the existing buildings, but new buildings are coming up adjacent to the helicopter complex in Bangalore. These helicopters will be built in the new buildings that are expected to be completed by the end of this year.
Considering that the LCH is a light helicopter, why is it being called an attack helicopter?
It is an attack helicopter in the 5.5 tonne class. At present it has a canon and a rocket pod. In terms of weapons load, LCH will be armed with anti-tank, air to air, and air to ground missiles.