Another major milestone was by achieved by India’s state owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). According to our sources the HAL’s flagship helicopter development program Light Combat Helicopter’s (LCH) second prototype TD-2 (Technology Demonstrator) achieved its first flight at 1500hrs IST. This a major boost for the program as this prototype is expected to be a weaponized version.
The nature of this test flight is not yet clear but it is believed that the helicopter made low level hover similar to first test flight of LCH TD-1. The TD-2 also has lots of Indian Army specific inputs like the revolutionary digital camouflage. Also the TD-2 is 100kgs lighter than the TD-1. TD-2 is also equipped with a fully functional target acquisition and pilots vision pod a feature which was not seen in TD-1.
Plan to develop an attack helicopter was finalized in October 2006 after the design concept developed by HAL was approved by the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force. Need for a modern attack helicopter platform was felt by the Indian military during late 90s when its attack helicopter fleet comprising of some 30 Russian Mi-24s and Mi-35s proved to be useless at high altitude and lacked sophistication needed by complex modern wars. It was decided to develop an attack helicopter which could fulfill the unique and different needs of the Army and the Air force.
LCH was designed out of HAL’s highly successful multi-role utility helicopter “Dhruv”. Dhruv first entered service in 2002 and since have carried out its duties in a very successful manner. Dhruv is also being exported to many countries. Developing LCH from Dhruv saved HAL preciously needed time. So far the IAF has placed an order of 65 LCH’s and the Army has placed an order of 114. According to estimates the LCH should receive its Final operational clearance by 2013/2014 after which it will enter service.
The LCH incorporates stealth features, ability to perform night operations and crash landing gear for high survivability. The LCH will have a narrow fuselage, with two crew stations. The LCH is being designed to fit into an anti-infantry and anti-armour role and will be able to operate at high altitudes (16,300 feet). HAL will supply the Indian Air Force with 65 and Indian army with 114 gunships. The helicopter is powered by the HAL/Turbomeca Shakti turboshaft engine. The helicopter will be equipped with helmet-mounted targeting systems, electronic warfare systems and advanced weapons systems.
The LCH is to have a glass cockpit with multifunction displays, a target acquisition and designation system with FLIR, Laser rangefinder and laser designator. Weapons will be aimed with a helmet mounted sight and there will be an electronic warfare suite with radar warning receiver, laser warning receiver and a missile approach warning system.
Complete details are still sketchy but we working on getting them. The news of first test flight of TD-1 was made public first on 2nd April 2010 in http://www.defenceaviation.com/2010/04/indias-light-combat-helicopter.html by Pratik Sawerdekar Stay tuned for more information.