In a significant move, the prime minister-led Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on Wednesday approved the procurement of 15 indigenously developed Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) at a cost of Rs 3,887 crore. The defence ministry said 10 helicopters will be for the Indian Air Force and five will be for the Indian Army. "The CCS has approved procurement of 15 Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) Limited Series Production at the cost of Rs 3,887 crore along with infrastructure sanctions worth Rs 377 crore," it said. Light Combat Helicopter Limited Series Production (LSP) is an indigenously developed combat helicopter containing around 45 per cent indigenous content by value which will progressively increase to more than 55 per cent.
The state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) produces the helicopter. The decision to procure the helicopters came in the midst of the three services focusing extensively on enhancing their overall combat capabilities in view of India facing myriad security challenges including along the borders with China.
The LCH is equipped with requisite agility, manoeuvrability, extended range, high altitude performance and all-weather combat capability to perform a range of roles including combat search and rescue (CSAR), destruction of enemy air defence (DEAD) and counter-insurgency (CI) operations, according to the ministry. It said the helicopter can also be deployed in high altitude bunker-busting operations, counter-insurgency operations in the jungle and urban environments and for supporting ground forces. The helicopter can also be used against slow-moving aircraft and remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs) of adversaries. The ministry said it would be a potent platform to meet the operational requirements of the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army.
"State of the art technologies and systems compatible with stealth features such as reduced visual, aural, radar and IR signatures and crashworthiness features for better survivability have been integrated into the LCH for deployment in combat roles catering to emerging needs for the next three to four decades," the ministry said in a statement. "Several key aviation technologies like a glass cockpit and composite airframe structure have been indigenised. The future series-production version will consist of further modern and indigenous systems," it said. The ministry said India is continuously growing in its capability to indigenously design, develop and manufacture advanced cutting edge technologies and systems in the defence sector under the 'Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan'.
"The manufacturing of the LCH by the HAL will give a further push to Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative and boost indigenisation of defence production and the defence industry in the country," it said. "The production of LCH will reduce import dependence for combat helicopters in the country. Light Combat Helicopters are already in the import embargo list. With its versatile features built-in for combat missions, LCH has the export capability," the ministry said.