Defence minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the new LCH Production hangar at Helicopter Division today in Bangalore in the presence of CMD Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd R. Madhavan.
“LCH is completely ready for operational induction and Helicopter Complex is fully geared up for the production of LCH,” Madhavan said at the occasion. Production hangar will augment the LCH production capacity to reach a peak production of 30 helicopters per year, CEO, Helicopter Complex, GVS Bhaskar added.
LCH is a 5.5 ton class combat helicopter designed and developed by HAL. It is powered by two Shakti engines and inherits many technical features of the Advanced Light Helicopter. The features that are unique to LCH are sleek and narrow fuselage, tri-cycle crashworthy landing gear, crashworthy and self-sealing fuel tanks, armor protection and low visibility features which makes it agile and survivable.
According to the official press release, “LCH has the distinction of being the first attack helicopter to land in Forward Bases at Siachen, 4700 mts above sea level with 500kg load. As part of development, four LCH prototypes have been built and extensively flight-tested with over 1620 cumulative flights (1239 flight hours). LCH received Initial Operation Clearance (IOC) on August 26, 2017, in the presence of the Defence Minister.”
A techno-commercial proposal for 15 Limited Series Production (LSP) helicopters has already been submitted by HAL in March 2018. The order is awaited. The total projected requirement is for around 160 helicopters.
HAL also apprised the defence minister on the progress of new design and development programme of indigenous Indian Multi Role Helicopter (IMRH). The full scale mock-up was showcased to the minister. The IMRH (for IAF, Navy and Army) is proposed as a replacement to the existing medium-lift helicopters such as Mi-17’s, Kamovs and Sea Kings, which will phase out in the next eight to 10 years. HAL is keen to complete the development of IMRH during this time. Induction of indigenous IMRH will result in considerable savings of foreign exchange. Preliminary Project Report (PPR) for Development has been submitted to MoD for sanction of funds by CCS.
The defence minister also hailed HAL’s contribution in the nation building calling it as the backbone of the Indian defence forces. “While there is every reason to be happy about its performance especially in the last five years, the Company should prepare itself to take up the challenges in the emerging market. HAL should see the competition as an opportunity”, he said at Kannada NaadaHabba, a cultural event organised at HAL here today.
The defence minister complemented HAL for celebrating the rich heritage and the language of Karnataka which he said has contributed immensely in enriching India’s diverse culture. The state is a beautiful mix of modernity and tradition with great history, he said.