India's Cabinet Committee on Security has approved the procurement of 15 Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The aircraft will be manufactured under a limited-series production run at a cost of INR38.87 billion ($513.8 mln).
The Indian Ministry of Defense press release reported that this first firm order of the limited series production LCH costs INR38.87 billion, to which must be added contracts for INR3.77 billion million for infrastructure. Ten of the new aircraft are intended for the Indian Air Force (IAF), while five will go to the Indian Army. Beyond the preliminary order for 15 LSP helicopters, the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the army have jointly projected a SP requirement for 162 LCHs: 65 for the IAF and 97 for the army.
HAL said that the limited-series production variant will have an indigenous content of 45%. However, the regular-series production is expected to increase this content to 55%. HAL has initiated various planning activities and has drawn a detailed master plan for achieving the peak rate production capacity of 30 helicopters per annum in order to cater to the production of balance 145 LCHs.
This helicopter is equipped with requisite agility, manoeuvrability, extended range, high altitude performance and all-weather combat capability to perform a range of roles including combat search and rescue (CSAR), destruction of enemy air defence (DEAD) and counter-insurgency (CI) operations.
As a light attack helicopter, the indigenous chopper packs a lethal punch with air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles. It is armed with a 20 mm gun and can carry 70 mm rockets. The LCH can acquire and neutralize both air and ground targets with the aid of advanced avionics and arms.