LCH R&D on track to deliver high altitude attack capability to IAF The first prototype of the Light Combat Helicopter made its maiden flight in March 2010 and later took part in the flying display at Aero-India 2011. The second prototype has recently commenced flying and by the end of 2012, completion of flight testing of the basic platform is expected. Thereafter, systems and weapon integration trials would commence for the LCH. The final configuration of TD-3 is now in the process of getting defined and according to Dr Prasad Sampath, chief designer, Rotor Wing Research & Development Centre (RWRDC) HAL, â€œAll the drawing changes will be completed by November end and we expect it to fly nine months from then. At present, we do not have any showstopper problems and TD-3 will be the final version of the LCH.â€ The team at RWRDC will be incorporating a number of improvements as a result of flight testing of prototypes and analysis of data obtained. This has led to a few essential design changes being introduced and these are being implemented on TD-2 for further flight testing. According to the design team, weight issues are under control and the LCH is likely to top out at 5800 kg. Sea level trials and high level trials are expected to take place soon Modifications have been made to the second prototype and an important one has been to reconfigure the doors to open sideways and not upwards as in TD-1. Evaluation of a new air intake is set to begin as it was found during analysis that certain improvements could be made to the intake, and this has already been realised on TD-1 and air intake survey will be conducted for this. New drag reducing fairings will be fitted on TD-2 and flight performance evaluations of the same are also slated to commence shortly. Most important is to determine the true air speed. This requires evaluation of the pitot system that. provides the required data and the same helicopter will be used for performance evaluation and collection of load data. Load collection will help in carrying out the breakaway fuselage test and this has already started. It will help test structural integrity of the fuselage and actual flight loads need to be collected for this and design team is all geared up for this. The LCH has significantly less vibrations compared to the Dhruv however the canopy needs to be stiffened and modifications have already been made on TD-2 with regards to the top canopy for increased stiffness and this will be resolved completely on TD-3. Further improved design changes are due to be effected on TD-3, which is expected to be very close to production standard. The landing gear now has a fairing to reduce drag. The LCH has a reduced cross sectional area and features a Radar Cross section (RCS) that is one third of the Dhruv. The armament boom had been designed for low cross Section. Unfortunately, the boom contributed higher than planned for drag and resulted in reduced speed. It has now been replaced with a boom featuring an aerofoil cross section and drag has been reduced. The struts of the landing gear also contribute to RCS. Inbuilt Infra Red (IR) suppressors will reduce the heat signature and CFD analysis has been used here. The top of the helicopter has been cleaned up with a number of air inlets, etc being removed. Third prototype will incorporate all these changes.