India Advances Light attack Helicopter Program with Major Tender

India Advances Light attack Helicopter Program with Major Tender

India’s Ministry of Defence has taken a significant step forward in its Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) program by issuing a request for proposals (RfP) to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The tender calls for 156 LCH Prachand helicopters, with 90 destined for the Indian Army and 66 for the Indian Air Force.

This major acquisition, confirmed by HAL in a stock exchange filing on June 17, is expected to be worth over 450 billion rupees (approximately US$5.4 billion). The news sparked a surge in HAL’s shares, which rose 6.5% to a record 5,582.80 rupees.

A High-Altitude Powerhouse

The LCH Prachand, a 5.8 ton indigenous design, is renowned for its exceptional high-altitude performance. It can operate effectively from sea level to super high altitudes, with the ability to take off and land at 16,400ft (5,000m).

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This capability makes it ideal for India’s mountainous borders with China and Pakistan. The helicopter’s armaments include Mistral air-to-air missiles, FZ231 2.75-inch rocket pods, a nose-mounted M621 20mm cannon, and future integration of Dhruvastra air-to-ground missiles.

Increasing Indigenous Content

While the LCH is considered an indigenous design, the initial limited series production achieved only 45% local content. However, HAL aims to increase this to 55% with the series production of 156 helicopters. A key factor in this improvement is a 2023 agreement with Safran for full technology transfer of the Shakti 1H1 engines powering the LCH.

K.P Sanjeev Kumar, a former Indian naval aviation test pilot, emphasized the significance of this tender in India’s journey towards producing customized helicopters for its armed forces.

Strategic Importance and Future Outlook

The LCH Prachand is set to play a vital role in India’s military arsenal, operating alongside 28 AH-64E Apache helicopters procured from Boeing. This tender, following closely on the heels of an RfP for 97 Light Combat Aircraft Mk 1A issued to HAL in April, further solidifies HAL’s position in India’s defense industry.

As India continues to strengthen its indigenous defense capabilities, the LCH Prachand program represents a significant milestone in the country’s pursuit of self-reliance in military technology and its ability to address unique operational requirements.

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