HAL gears up to manufacture 30 Light Combat Helicopters a year, has order to make 150 of them for IAF, Army

Published : November 20, 2021 18:04 IST

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited HAL's indigenously developed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH). Photo: HAL

Buoyed by the maiden delivery of its indigenously designed, developed and manufactured Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) to the Indian Air Force (IAF), Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has announced that it is embarking on a grandiose plan to produce around 30 LCHs per annum.

According to A.R. Madhvan, HAL’s Chairman and Managing Director, the defence major is on cue to deliver, within a year, the 15 twin-engine, 5.8-tonne-class attack helicopters that the IAF has ordered. HAL, he added was looking at a total order of 150 LCHs for both the IAF and the Army.

On November 20, a spokesperson for HAL said: "HAL has proactively initiated advance action towards launching the production activities of 15 LCH LSP (limited series production) with internal funding. Material procurement for all the 15 helicopters have been completed. Three helicopters are ready for delivery to users and the balance helicopters are in advanced stages of production. In addition, 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 production of balance 145 LCHs."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had symbolically handed over the first of the LCHs to Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari at a function at Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, on November 19.

The genesis for the LCH goes back to 1999, when post the Kargil war, the need was felt in the IAF, for an effective helicopter weapons platform that could deliver precision strikes at high altitude. The design and development of the LCH was sanctioned by the government in October 2006, with the Indian Army joining the programme in December 2013, leading to a total projected requirement of 160 LCHs.

While the IAF issued its air staff qualitative requirements (ASQRs) in July 2016 for a batch of limited series production helicopters, the platform’s Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) was accorded by the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) in August 2017. Subsequently, the Indian Army variant was cleared by CEMILAC in February 2019. HAL is hopeful, that the LCH, which is a unique helicopter in its class and weight category, will find takers from overseas as well.