India test flies light combat chopper
Bengaluru: India Wednesday conducted the maiden test flight of its Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) as a technology demonstrator in this aerospace hub.
"The 20-minute maiden test flight of the indigenously built third LCH prototype was flawless," defence behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) said in a statement here later.
The multi-role combat chopper was piloted by Wing Commander Unni Pillai with Group Captain SHK Nair as co-pilot, while it was escorted by the HAL-built Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH).
"The LCH is intended to be an effective weapon platform to deliver precision strikes at high altitudes by the Indian Air Force (IAF)," HAL chairman and managing director R.K. Tyagi said on the occasion.
The state-run HAL plans to achieve initial operational clearance (IOC) for the LCH in the next 10 months after its four prototypes undergo series of test flights.
HAL plans to roll out 179 light combat helicopters for the defence forces, primarily for IAF and the Indian army.
The chopper's first technology demonstrator (TD-1) was first flown March 29, 2010, and the second version (TD-2) flew June 28, 2011. Since then, the first two prototypes have flown 388 times logging 285 hours and 10 minutes.
The third and fourth prototypes (TD-3 and TD-4) will be extensively flown to test its operational parameters under cold and hot weather and weapon firing trials.