M A I N   N E W S

Indigenous combat copter takes to skies
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, May 23
The aviation disaster at Mangalore yesterday was followed by a tremendous achievement in the field of aviation when HAL raised the curtain on its indigenously developed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) here today.

The machine turned out to be a beauty - albeit a deadly one - capable of inflicting lethal damage on adversaries. It is armed with one 20 mm turret gun, 70 mm rockets, air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles and iron and cluster bombs.

Put up for display for the first time, the helicopter had the audience awestruck by its incredible manoeuvrability and sleek look. The chopper moved sideways on both right and left sides at a good speed and even did reverse flying. It climbed vertically skywards in great speed and then dived toward the ground at an even greater speed.

HAL had big plans for this day. Defence Minister AK Antony, Minister of State for Defence Pallam Raju and Air Chief Marshal PV Naik were supposed to be present at the function today. None of them came in view of the tragic plane crash yesterday.

In their absence, the responsibility of becoming the chief guest at the event fell at the shoulders of Air Marshal PK Borbora, IAF vice-chief.

“The show must go on,” Borbora said later after having observed two-minute silence in the memory of those who died in the crash.

Ashok Naik, HAL chairman, said the helicopter that flew today was the first prototype of LCH. Two more prototypes were being built, he said and added that the helicopter was likely to get Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) in 2012.

Weapon testing of the first prototype would take place in Chandipur in Orissa later this year, Srinivasan, chief of HAL’s helicopter complex, said.

The helicopter, when loaded with ordnances, weighs 5.8 tonnes and can climb at the rate of 12 metres per second. Its maximum speed is 268 km per hour. The mission systems of LCH consist of target acquisition and designation system, helmet mounted sight, electronic warfare suite and counter measure dispensing system, data link with ground control, digital video recording system and infrared suppressor.

The helicopter can be used against slow-moving aerial targets, for destruction of enemy air defence and can be deployed for anti-tank and anti-personnel operations. The cost of the project, according to Ashok Naik, HAL chairman, is Rs 376 crore.





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