IAF plaudits for LCH on its maiden flight

IAF plaudits for LCH on its maiden flight

The state-of-the-art chopper will be the key component of IAF air defence

IAF plaudits for LCH on its maiden flight

Inaugurating the maiden flight launch of the chopper at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) airport hereon Sunday, the Vice-Chief of Air staff, Air Marshal P K Barbora was unsparing with his admiration for the copter which is now likely to be inducted into the Armed forces by 2014.

The LCH, the military version of the Advanced Light Helicopter (Dhruv) is a dedicated attack helicopter featuring a narrow fuselage and a tandem seating for the pilot and co-pilot. The machine is designed for low detection (reduced visual, aural, radar and infra red signatures) and has crashworthy landing gear for better survivability. With a host of features, the LCH is expected to play a major role in air defence aspect of the Indian Air

Force (IAF) against slow moving aerial targets, destruction of enemy air defence operations, escort to special heliborne operations, support of combat search and rescue operations, anti-tank role and scout duties.

“It is a red letter day for not only HAL, but the whole nation. I am quite positive, the aircraft will meet all requirements of the Indian Air Force (IAF) in this class of helicopters. The first display has been superb, though the chopper appears bulky and heavy,” Barbora said. The capability to indigenise a chopper of the class of LCH is possible only by a few nations globally, he added.

Past mistakes

“At the same time, HAL must learn from its past mistakes and not repeat them,” he said in a pointed reference to the past differences between the IAF and HAL. Ashok Nayak, HAL chairman who also spoke said, IAF had booked 65 LCHs. “The army has also shown keen interest in buying a large number of these for the army aviation wing,” he said. R K Singh, Secretary, Defence Production was also present.

The event was, however overshadowed by the crash of Air India Express IX-812 in Mangalore on Saturday, with Defence Minister A K Antony and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal P V Naik staying away from the ceremony as a mark of respect to lives lost in the air disaster. Chief test pilots Unni Pillai and Hari Nair who flew the 5.8-tonne LCH, put up a 10-minute spectacular air display.