HAL Light Combat Helicopter (LCH)

Rajaraja Chola

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Light combat helicopters being built for Rs 125 crore each, says HAL
HAL's high-altitude attack helicopter is one-third the cost of the Apache

In a double assertion of its proficiency in building different kinds of helicopters, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) on Monday achieved two significant landmarks: The company rolled out its 300th Dhruv advanced light helicopter (ALH) for the military; and also conducted the inaugural ground run of the first Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) it is series-producing for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
While the Dhruv, with over 280,000 flying hours logged, is already the backbone of the IAF and army’s light helicopter fleet, the LCH is a crucial new induction that would play an important role in any armed confrontation between Indian and Chinese troops on the Ladakh border, or in the looming militarization of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The LCH project was sanctioned after the 1999 Kargil War, when a dire need was felt for a weapons platform that could provide dedicated fire support to army soldiers at high altitudes, who can carry only a limited amount of weaponry. The Ministry of Defence accordingly sanctioned the LCH project in October 2006.
Fourteen years later, the LCH has become a reality. Business Standard learns that HAL has agreed to build the first 15 “limited series production” LCH for about Rs 125 crore per helicopter – about one-third the cost of each of the 28 AH-64E Apaches attack helicopters the government is importing from The Boeing Company.
True, the Apache is a bigger, more heavily armed gunship with more advanced avionics and battle-tested night fighting capabilities. But, for those reasons, it is expensive and the army and IAF will be making up the numbers with LCHs.
The military is still to sign a contract for 15 LCHs, but HAL has decided to start building the helicopters with its own funds. HAL’s board has sanctioned Rs 1,800 crore for this and production is well along.
A key attribute of the 5.8-tonne LCH is its ability to fly and fight at the altitudes the army is deployed at. In tests conducted in the Siachen Glacier sector, the LCH has demonstrated its capability to land and take off at altitudes of 5,000 metres with sufficient fuel and weaponry for combat missions against even higher targets.
Driving this performance is the LCH’s twin Shakti engines, especially designed by French firm, Safran, to deliver extra power at high altitudes.
That makes the LCH an ideal platform for providing infantry soldiers fire support in 15,000-16,000 feet-high contested areas such as Depsang, Galwan and the heights north and south of the Pangong Tso, where Indian soldiers are facing off against Chinese intruders.
The military has already projected to HAL an eventual requirement of 65 LCH for the IAF and 97 for the army.
For such a small, light helicopter, the LCH is a formidable fighting machine. Its two pilots, who are seated one behind the other in a slim tandem cockpit, can choose between a menu of weapons that they fire using a helmet pointing system that lets a pilot aim at a target just by looking at it.
The LCH’s weapons options include a nose-mounted, 20-millimetre turret gun; or 70-millimetre rockets; or air-to-air missiles that it carries on stub wings. The LCH is the first helicopter to fire air-to-air missiles against a flying target.
The LCH is also designed to carry anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) that can knock out enemy tanks at ranges of up to seven kilometres.
Allowing it to survive on a battlefield where it will be a prized target, the LCH is protected by a range of devices. The pilots are shielded against ground fire by armoured panels around the cockpit and by a bulletproof windshield. The LCH has self-sealing fuel tanks that automatically seal up bullet holes with a rubber compound. It has damage-tolerant rotor blades and a main gearbox that can run for 30 minutes even after a bullet hit drains out all its oil.
The LCH is also fitted with an electronic warfare (EW) system that detects enemy missiles; and then scatters flares and chaff as decoys to lure the incoming missile away from the helicopter.
I hope the indigenous content has been increased. In 2010 CAG report it was told 90% of the value of this helicopter was paid to foreign companies. In 2010 the target was 50%.
 

Rajaraja Chola

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The Indigenization increase when they enter series production apart from development of critical systems.
I was talking of the Dhruv series in general. Cos LCH contains most of the systems developed for ALH Dhruv. If Dhruv is indeginized then LCH would also have high serious of indigenousation.
 

abingdonboy

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Ayy after this is done we should move on to HCH(Heavy combat Heli).
Maybe a mid life upgrade for LCH , remember its still flying on an underpowered engine.
[

underpowered? TheTurbomeca Shakti-1H1 is a beast of an engine and allows the LCH to operate at extreme altitudes with ease. The HSTE-1200 is underdevelopment but bare in mind more powerful engines always come with a weight penalty, I’m pretty sure the TWR of the HSTE-1200 is not a huge amount more than the 1H1.


I hope the indigenous content has been increased. In 2010 CAG report it was told 90% of the value of this helicopter was paid to foreign companies. In 2010 the target was 50%.
Do you hear people asking what the ‘foreign content’ of their made in China IPhones is? The IP is Indian, eventually it will have an Indian engine but even today HAL can integrate any weapon or system the users could ask for

Take all CAG reports with a bucket of salt, not sure why it keeps happening but their misunderstandings about defence projects is mind blowing
 

Bhumihar

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[

underpowered? TheTurbomeca Shakti-1H1 is a beast of an engine and allows the LCH to operate at extreme altitudes with ease. The HSTE-1200 is underdevelopment but bare in mind more powerful engines always come with a weight penalty, I’m pretty sure the TWR of the HSTE-1200 is not a huge amount more than the 1H1.




Do you hear people asking what the ‘foreign content’ of their made in China IPhones is? The IP is Indian, eventually it will have an Indian engine but even today HAL can integrate any weapon or system the users could ask for

Take all CAG reports with a bucket of salt, not sure why it keeps happening but their misunderstandings about defence projects is mind blowing
No i didn't mean underpowered in that sense. The engine is derated to 786 from 1200 kw.
 

Rajaraja Chola

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[

underpowered? TheTurbomeca Shakti-1H1 is a beast of an engine and allows the LCH to operate at extreme altitudes with ease. The HSTE-1200 is underdevelopment but bare in mind more powerful engines always come with a weight penalty, I’m pretty sure the TWR of the HSTE-1200 is not a huge amount more than the 1H1.




Do you hear people asking what the ‘foreign content’ of their made in China IPhones is? The IP is Indian, eventually it will have an Indian engine but even today HAL can integrate any weapon or system the users could ask for

Take all CAG reports with a bucket of salt, not sure why it keeps happening but their misunderstandings about defence projects is mind blowing
Ha no. Trust me, I have no issues with a new product. It should be integrated with the best possible components. But high cost equipment moving forward should slowly integrate locally designed and manufactured replacement. 90% of the value by cost is huge and the report from CAG is from 2010. We have now moved a decade forward. The GoI looks at this foreign exchange costs when placing orders especially when the money doesn't benefit Indian suppliers nor make jobs. They are right in pointing it out.

We should have atleast progressed to 40% cost by value through indigenous means by now. I don't know the latest numbers. Otherwise it would be like Tatra case where we imported kits and assembled here for decades without giving chances to local competitors. Replace one component at a time, test, integrate it. That should be the motto.

I believe the engine is JV.
 

Lancer

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Bdw the group captain Hari nair...who is a test pilot in hal says.....
Hal will integrate any atgm ,asked by the forces
S
Would make sense to churn out LCH's and just integrate Spike on them; that may already be the plan:


def-x625-2.jpeg
 

Flying Dagger

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No i didn't mean underpowered in that sense. The engine is derated to 786 from 1200 kw.
Because it didn't needed that much thrust, it's not underpowered.

ALH Dhruv definitely can definitely gain from a more fuel efficient high power engine though.
 

Bhadra

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Ha no. Trust me, I have no issues with a new product. It should be integrated with the best possible components. But high cost equipment moving forward should slowly integrate locally designed and manufactured replacement. 90% of the value by cost is huge and the report from CAG is from 2010. We have now moved a decade forward. The GoI looks at this foreign exchange costs when placing orders especially when the money doesn't benefit Indian suppliers nor make jobs. They are right in pointing it out.

We should have atleast progressed to 40% cost by value through indigenous means by now. I don't know the latest numbers. Otherwise it would be like Tatra case where we imported kits and assembled here for decades without giving chances to local competitors. Replace one component at a time, test, integrate it. That should be the motto.

I believe the engine is JV.
Such reality checks are injurious to the health of Fanboys... They look at a good photo only and start chanting my Dick stronger...

When shown the mirror they stoop down to expletives...

ख़ुदा नहीं न सही आदमी का ख़्वाब सही
कोई हसीन नज़ारा तो है नज़र के लिये
 

Flying Dagger

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Such reality checks are injurious to the health of Fanboys... They look at a good photo only and start chanting my Dick stronger...

When shown the mirror they stoop down to expletives...

ख़ुदा नहीं न सही आदमी का ख़्वाब सही
कोई हसीन नज़ारा तो है नज़र के लिये
Compare the cost of ALH like capable helicopter vs the same in international market and how much job that imported product will create in India .
While we can get a Dhruv at less than 5 mn a piece an imported one will cost 10-15 mn with additional expense on repair and longer downtime .

Even with imported content we have a advantage here as IPR belongs to us and we are step by step replacing the imported systems. The content is around 40% and with 1200 kw under dev engine once in production we will be able to raise it by 60-70% in terms of cost.

So over all a direct saving of 50-60% plus half of the remaining coming back into economy and not just creating job but high end product line.
 

Bleh

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We should have atleast progressed to 40% cost by value through indigenous means by now.
No it doesn't work like that. Priorities!
First & foremost they'll have to work on operational clearance of the platform. As you see most of the work till now was on its IR signature, aerodynamics & maintenance friendlyness.

The R&D intensive missiles & EW are imported for now. Once the platform is cleares then ATGMs will be indigenised (if they can supress these DALALs in Army & MoD it could be Helina). In future batches the avionics & subsystems will be replaced. Similar to how the indigenous tech replaces imported stopgaps in Tejas Mark1 to Mark1A to Mark2. The design & IP are still ours to work with, unlike say, TankEx.

Still more cost effective than fully imported platform, or even ToT license built... For example our T-90S are 90% homebuilt but $2mil out of $7mil goes to Rusky daddy as tribute.
 
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fire starter

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No it doesn't work like that. Priorities.
First & foremost they'll have to work on operational clearance of the platform. As you see most of the work was on its IR signature, aerodynamics & maintenance friendlyness.


The R&D intensive missiles & EW are imported for now. Once the platform is cleares them ATGMs will be indigenised (if they can supress these DALALs in Army & MoD then it could be Helina from start). In future batches the avionics & subsystems will be replaced... Similar to how the indigenous tech replaces imported stopgaps in Tejas Mark1 to Mark1A to Mark2.
well most of the important systems such as navigation, altimeter ,accelerometer,SDR,EW suite(except DIRCM),cockpit and electro optics can be easily indigenised now.
 

Bleh

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well most of the important systems such as navigation, altimeter ,accelerometer,SDR,EW suite(except DIRCM),cockpit and electro optics can be easily indigenised now.
These are indigenous & basic subsystems. Majority of the imports now are EW from SAAB & the rockets, Mistral AAMs, Spike-ER... Those are intricate tech that needs considerable R&D.
We don't have means to concentrate on everything simultaneously.

Platform maturity comes first. For indigenous platform subsystems can be replace at our own pace.
 

fire starter

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These are indigenous & basic subsystems. Majority of the imports now are EW from SAAB & the rockets, Mistral AAMs, Spike-ER... Those are intricate tech that needs considerable R&D.
We don't have means to concentrate on everything simultaneously.

Platform maturity comes first. For indigenous platform subsystems can be replace at our own pace.
EW has been made by BEL and DRDO whereas spike can be replaced by dhruvastra and SANT. Rockets will be also developed locally too.
 

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