The Dark Knight Rises: Indiaâ€™s Light Combat Helicopter | idrw.org ~ ~ Full article click the 'link'. ~ In 2006 the Light Combat Helicopter(LCH) program was launched and the ASR defined a 5.5 ton tandem seating chopper with a service ceiling of 6500m, primarily for High Altitude Warfare but also capable of Anti-Infantry, Anti-Armor, COIN and other special operations like defense against enemy UAVs. The project picked up steam under ACM Fali Homi Major whowas the first helicopter pilot Air Chief Marshal. After nearly 40 months, the LCH TD1- ZP 4601 took off from drawing board into the skies on 29th Mar 2010. The nimble machine immediately grabbed the attention of international defense watchers as it was unique in many ways and most of all, beyond the perceived capability of HAL. It was flown by test pilots Wg Cdr Unni Pillai and Gp Capt. Hari Nair. AtAero India 2011, they stunnedthe audience with a spectacular flying display, confidently flaunting maneuvers as if flying a mature machine. TD 2 with a pioneering digital camouflage flew a year later on 28th June2011. TD1 will primarily to check maneuverability and performance in the flight envelope whereas TD2 will be used for weapons integration tests. What makes the LCH unique: The best thing about an indigenous piece of equipment is that it is tailored for the needs of our armed forces. There is no other combat helicopter in production in the world which can fly to 20,000 ft. fully loaded with guided munitions. There has been a lot of productive reuse from the ALH Dhruv and Rudra programs. It has the same transmission box, Integrated Defense Suite and Automatic Flight Control System as the Rudra. It also uses the ALHâ€™s proven hingeless composite rotor that makes it extremely agile. The LCH also uses the same Turbomeca Shakti engines (2 x Ardiden 1H1) which provide it the highest power to weight ratio in its class. The LCH has an extremely low disc loading of 41.01 kg/m2 as compared to Super cobra â€“ 50 Kg/m2 and the Apache at 62 kg/m2. A low disc loading provides the LCH with an awesome high altitude hover capability while compromising marginally on itsspeed. But the LCH has already done 220 kmph in forward flight and designers are confident of achieving the target of 275 kmph . The LCH, however has a redesigned convoluted exhaust facing upwards to reduce IR signature and an indigenous IR suppression system. The tail rotor is bearingless, negating the chances of an in-flight failure. Push-pull cables have been used instead of rods to reduce weight and for better maintenance. Its two stage crashworthy undercarriage and composite fuselage has a better crash survivability of 10.5m/s vertical velocity that translates to 85% survivability. To add to its survivability, its fuel tanks automatically seal in case of a crash. It also has radar absorbing composite armor protecting the crucial areas. The LCH can operate during the night as well and has a pressurized cockpit allowing itto operate at heights beyond 15000 ft. The test pilots have claimed that the bird has excellent straight line stabilitywhich is essential for weaponsdelivery and provides an extremely agile and crisp flying experience. The Electro-optical pod located on the chin of LCH comprises of a day time CCD camera, a forward looking IR camera for night operations, alaser range finder and a laserdesignator. These are coupledwith a dedicated target acquisition and designation system integrated with helmet mounted sight. The LCH is armed with 20mm cannon on a Nexter Turret, 70 mm rocketsand MBDA A2A guided missiles.The LCH is extremely stealthy at just half the RCS of ALH Dhruv, and also has the latestEW suite from SAAB. Avionics have been developed indigenously with help from Israeli consultants. Directional IR sensors and missile approach warning system is being sourced from DRDO. DRDO will also provide a tactical two way Datalink for network centric operations in tandem with UAVs and AEW&C in the long run. There is more exciting news, the LCH may beequipped with an anti radiationmissile for SEAD (suppression of enemy air defense) roles. HATSOFF simulation courseware for the LCH is alsoin the offing. HELINA or another ATGM may also be integrated in the future. To top it all, the total cost of the program is pegged at 70 million dollars; this is peanuts as compared to similar programs in the west. The LCHhas a hover capability beyond15000 ft.