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India's Light Combat Helicopter takes to skies

A replica of the HAL-designed Light Combat Helicopter.

BANGALORE (BNS): The indigenously-built Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) of India has successfully made its maiden flight.

A prototype of the attack gunship took off from the Helicopter Complex here on Monday and flew for nearly 20 minutes during which pilots tested the low speed, low altitude capabilities of various systems on board the chopper.

“The performance of the helicopter and systems was satisfactory,” state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, which has developed the LCH, said.

HAL is planning a similar flight test of another prototype of the helicopter by August this year.

The Light Combat Helicopter is an attack helicopter based on the HAL-designed Dhruv (Advance Light Helicopter) platform.

The LCH has been designed to fit into an anti-infantry and anti-armour role and will have the capability to operate at high altitudes.

Equipped with electronic warfare and advanced weapons systems like guns, rockets and missiles, the chopper, with stealth features, would be effectively used for anti-tank and counter-insurgency operations.

The 5.5 ton chopper is fitted with Shakti engine developed by HAL, in association with French company Turbomeca.

HAL plans a full-fledged qualification test programme for the LCH, leading to its initial operation clearance by December 2011 towards its induction in the Indian Armed Services.

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