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Air Force will soon get the first batch of three Light Combat Helicopters

 HAL to produce five LCH each for Air Force and Army

- Air Force needs 65 and Army 114 Light Combat Helicopters

New Delhi, 12 July (FM.). Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is gearing up to deliver the first batch of three Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) to the Indian Air Force soon. These 03 helicopters are part of 15 Limited Series Production (LSP) approved for Army and Air Force. HAL has been asked to produce five LCHs each for the Air Force and the Army under the LSP. The Indian Air Force has stated a requirement of 65 LCH helicopters for itself and the Army 114.

The Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) had approved the proposal for an initial batch of 15 Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) manufactured by HAL. The LCH has been certified by the concerned agency for induction into the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army. The IAF had issued a letter of request to HAL for production of a limited number of 15 helicopters, out of which 5 Army helicopters would be received by the Army. The 15 LCH deal was expected to be signed in the first quarter of 2021, but has been delayed due to the second wave of the pandemic. Now HAL has received the Letter of Intent from the Government for finalizing the pending contract for Limited Series Production (LSP). HAL has been asked to produce five LCHs each for the Air Force and the Army under the LSP. Of the 15 LSP helicopters, 10 are for the Air Force and five for the Army.

 

 

 HAL has indicated that three Light Combat Helicopters will soon be delivered to the Indian Air Force in the first batch. The production of four LCHs for the Army and two for the Air Force will be completed in the current year under the LSP series. The remaining six LCH will be produced next year. The Indian Air Force has stated a requirement of 65 LCH helicopters for itself and the Army 114. The LCH is the world's lightest attack helicopter weighing 5.5 tonnes which has been designed and developed by HAL to meet the specific and unique requirements of the Indian Armed Forces. It can operate at an altitude of 12,000 feet.

Army Aviation operates small utility helicopters and does not have combat helicopters in its fleet. Therefore, these Light Combat Helicopters will fulfill the requirement of the Indian Army Air Fleet. The Air Force operates a fleet of combat helicopters to provide close air support to the Army. The IAF has the old Mi-25 and Mi-35 Russian attack helicopters which are in the process of being phased out. The IAF has also inducted American 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters into its fleet. The army will also start getting Apache attack helicopters from the beginning of 2023.

Presently, the Army has 90 Advanced Light Helicopters (ALHs) and 75 Rudra Armed ALHs in service, which are indigenously designed and developed by HAL. Apart from this, there are about 160 old Cheetah and Chetak utility helicopters whose technical life will start coming to an end by 2023. The two LCHs were deployed in Leh last August amid the ongoing standoff with China in eastern Ladakh to validate their capability to support Indian Air Force missions for high altitude operations.

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