Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is expected to deliver the first batch of three Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) to the Bharatiya Vayu Sena (IAF, Indian Air Force) once acceptance tests are completed.
In November 2016, the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) cleared the acquisition for the LCH. After the clearance by the MoD, another year passed before the first Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued. On 22 December 2017, HAL received the RFP to manufacture fifteen Limited Series Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) for the IAF and the Indian Army Aviation Corps. Of these fifteen helicopters, ten are for the IAF and five for the Army.
According to a HAL spokesperson, the company received a Letter of Intent (LoI) for five IAF and five Army LCHs for delivery pending contract finalisation of the Limited Series Production (LSP). HAL already produced three LSP LCHs for the IAF. On the remaining helicopters the spokesperson added; “In 2021 we are producing four LCHs for the Army and two for the Air Force. The remaining six LCHs will be produced in 2022.”
While the IAF is the LCH’s launch customer, the Indian Army will receive most of the helicopters. The air force has put forward a requirement for 65 LCHs and the Army for 114 LCHs. The LCH is a 5,5-ton class, combat helicopter designed and developed by HAL to meet the specific and unique requirements of the Indian armed forces and can operate at heights of 12,000 feet.
The maiden flight of the LCH already dates back to 29 March 2010. So far four Technology Demonstrators (TD) and three Limited Series Production (LSP) Series LCHs have been built:
ZP4601 (TD-1) black c/s, l/n feb19
ZP4602 (TD-2) digital camo, l/n feb21
ZF4603 (TD-3) grey/dark grey c/s, l/n feb21
ZF4604 (TD-4) black c/s, l/n feb21
ZF4831 (LSP-01), l/n feb21
plus LSP-02 and LSP-03, not seen yet
Photo by Shrey Chopra (Scramble Archive)