|New Delhi, Aug 31: India's first indigenously-developed Light Combat Helicopter will be test flown later this year, in a major step aimed at giving a boost to the country's fighting capabilities in the Himalayas. State-run aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has completed development of the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and it will test fly the chopper by the year-end.
If the test flight goes smoothly, the LCH, built on the platform of a Cheetah body would be the second big feather in HAL's cap after the Advanced Light Helicopter. The LCH is expected to fill vital gaps in India's security as the armed forces lack a helicopter gunship which can operate in extreme high altitude above 9,000 feet.
The indigenous development of such a helicopter comes as IAF has recently floated international tenders for the purchase of 22 advanced helicopter gunships. Besides Eurocopter which is part of the defence and aviation consortium EADS, the other major contenders for this competition are Boeing's AH-54D, Augusta Westland's AW-129 Mangustu and Russia's MI-28N NightHunters.
Top HAL officials said work on the project was going on as per schedule. The aerospace major had taken five years to design the Advanced Light Helicopter 'Dhruv' but it completed the design of the LCH within 16-17 months. The helicopter will be equipped with helmet-mounted targeting systems, electronic warfare systems and advanced weapons systems.