India’s HAL LCH Light Combat Helicopter Makes Maiden Flight with Indigenous AFCS

The state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has carried out the first flight of its Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) equipped with indigenously designed and developed Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS).

According to the statement released by HAL, the maiden flight of the LCH Technology Demonstrator-2 (LCH TD-2) was flawless and flew for 20 minutes with the engagement of the system throughout.

The development of indigenous AFCS is HAL funded project and will replace the high value imported system, said T. Suvarna Raju, the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of HAL.

The AFCS is a digital four axis flight control system capable of performing control and stability augmentation function and auto-pilot modes of helicopters.

The indigenous development of the Hardware, Software and Control Law is a fully in-house effort of HAL R&D Centres – Rotary Wing Research & Design Centre (RWR&DC), and Mission and Combat Systems Research and Design Centre (MCSRDC) at Bengaluru and Strategic Electronics Research and Design Centre (SLRDC) at Hyderabad and Korwa Division.

Wg Cdr( Retd) Unni K Pillai, Chief Test Pilot and Gp. Capt (Retd) Rajesh Verma, Test Pilot were on the controls of LCH during the flight.  Representatives from certification agencies and senior officers from HAL were present.

HAL has already indigenised the Cockpit Display System on LCH namely the Integrated Architecture Display System (IADS) with the participation of Indian private industries and development flight testing is under progress.

HAL Light Combat Helicopter (LCH)

HAL Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) is a multirole combat helicopter developed and manufactured by Indian aerospace manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for use by the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Army.

On 29 March 2010, the first LCH prototype performed its maiden flight. The Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) for LCH was accorded on August 26, 2017 in the presence of Defence Minister.

The LCH design features a narrow fuselage with stealth profiling, armour protection, and will be equipped to conduct day-and-night combat operations. It has a tandem seating configuration for pilot and co-pilot/weapon system operator (WSO).

The LCH is powered by two HAL/Turbomeca Shakti turboshaft engines which enable it to have a maximum speed of 145 knots and rate of climb of 12.7 m/s.

The LCH has a glass cockpit with multifunction displays (MFD), a target acquisition and designation system with FLIR (Forward looking infrared), Laser rangefinder and laser designator.

The helicopter is armed with a 20 mm turret gun ( M621 cannon incorporated in a Nexter THL 20 turret), 70 mm rocket launchers and air-to-air missiles. Weapons will be aimed with a helmet mounted sight and there will be an electronic warfare (EW) suite with radar warning receiver (RWR), laser warning receiver and a missile approach warning system (MAW).

It is capable of high-altitude warfare (HAW) since its operational ceiling will be 6,000–6,500 metres (19,700–21,300 ft). Combat in the Kargil War highlighted the requirement of an attack helicopter made for such high altitude operations. The LCH has demonstrated the capability to land and lift off from Siachen Range with considerable load, fuel and weapons that are beyond any other combat helicopter.

LCH is intended for use in air defence against slow moving aerial targets (e.g. aircraft and UAVs), Counter Surface Force Operation (CSFO), destruction of enemy air defence (DEAD) operations, escort to special heliborne operations (SHBO), Counter-insurgency operations (COIN), offensive Employment in Urban Warfare, support of combat search and rescue operations (CSAR) operations, anti-tank role and scout duties.

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