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Third prototype of India's indigenous light combat helo takes to sky

HAL-built Light Combat Helicopter.

BANGALORE (BNS): India's indigenously-built Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) programme achieved a new milestone on Wednesday when the third prototype of the rotorcraft successfully took the sky, inching the project closer towards IOC certification.

The combat chopper, designated TD-3, made successful maiden flight in Bangalore. Piloted by Wing Commander Unni Pillai and co-piloted by Group Captain SHK Nair, it took off at 15.20 hrs. and flew for 20 minutes, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), which is developing the new combat chopper, said.

"Escorted by a Dhruv helicopter, the entire flight was flawless. It will be an effective weapon platform to deliver precision strikes at high altitude and we are confident it will meet the requirements of the IAF," R.K. Tyagi, Chairman of HAL, said.

"We are making all efforts to achieve IOC (Initial Operational Clearance) by September next year," he added.

The 5.8-ton LCH is designed to carry out a range of tasks including air defence against slow moving aerial targets, destruction of enemy air defence operations, providing escort to heli-borne special operations, counter surface force operations, anti-tank and scout duties.

In all HAL is expected to produce 179 LCH for the Indian defence forces.

The scope of the project covers design and development of two technology demonstrators, one full scale mock-up, one break away fuselage (BAF) and Initial Operational Clearance (IOC).

The first prototype of the new combat chopper, TD-1, was test flown in March, 2010 followed by the second prototype in June, 2011.

Since then, the two prototypes have been test flown 388 times, logging an accumulated flight of 285 hours and 10 minutes.


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