These are part of 15 limited series production helicopters approved for the military and IAF
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is preparing to deliver the first batch of three Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) to the Indian Air Force (IAF) after acceptance testing is complete. These are one of 15 Limited Series Production Helicopters (LSPs) approved for the military and IAF.
“HAL has received a Letter of Intent for five Air Force LCHs and five Army LCHs for delivery pending finalization of the 15 LCH Limited Series Production (LSP) contract. HAL has produced and reported three LSP LCHs for the IAF. The same will be subject to customer acceptance and training shortly, ”said a source from HAL.
On the remaining LSP series helicopters, the source added, “In the current year we are producing four LCHs for the Army and two for the Air Force. The remaining six CHLs will be produced next year.
The agreement for 15 CHL was due to be signed in the first quarter of 2021, but has been delayed due to the second wave of the pandemic.
The IAF has put forward a need for 65 LCHs and the Army for 114 helicopters. Of the 15 LSP helicopters, 10 are intended for the IAF and five for the Army. The LCH, the world’s lightest attack helicopter weighing 5.5 tonnes, was designed and developed by the HAL to meet the specific and unique needs of the Indian armed forces and can operate at heights of 12,000 feet.
Army Aviation operates smaller utility helicopters, but has no attack helicopters in its fleet and has for some time launched its own attack helicopters to operate with its attack corps. The attack helicopter fleet is operated by the Air Force, which provides close air support to the Army.
The IAF operates the retired Russian Mi-25 and Mi-35 attack helicopters which are in the process of being retired and has inducted 22 Apache AH-64E attack helicopters from the United States. The military will also begin receiving Apache attack helicopters from early 2023 onwards, six of which were contracted under an estimated $ 800 million deal with the United States in February 2020 .
Currently, the military has 90 Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) and 75 Rudra, armed ALH, helicopters in service which are locally designed and developed by the HAL, in addition to approximately 160 older Cheetah and Chetak utility helicopters which have need urgent replacement.
Last August, amid the current standoff with China in eastern Ladakh, two LCHs were deployed for short-term high-altitude operations in Leh to support IAF missions, validating their capability.