Being built at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) facility in Bangalore, the LCH completed its first ground run on February 4. Based on the LCH’s performance that day, its developers believe that the attack helicopter will be ready to fly soon. “There are some minor issues to be taken care of. Its performance [during the first ground run] was more than satisfactory,” a senior HAL official said. There have been enough indications that the LCH — to be armed with guns and different types of missiles and rockets — would be inducted in large numbers into the air force and the army by the end of 2011. Almost 200 of them are expected to be in service with the Indian military. The ground run, carried out for the first time on February 4, would be repeated regularly in the next few days. During these ground runs, the LCH would be fine-tuned for its first flight. The LCH was announced in 2006 to meet the operational requirements of both the air force and the army for close air support and anti-infantry and anti-armour roles. It would also work in very high altitudes. The twin-engine LCH is derived from the HAL’s Dhruv advance light helicopter, which is already in service. The LCH flies on the Shakti engine, which is jointly developed by HAL and Turbomeca of France. Over the next two years, HAL officials are hopeful of obtaining the final operational clearance for the LCH and starting December 2011, it could be ready for induction. According to the present design projections, the LCH would be heavily armed — it would carry a 20-mm cannon, four types of missiles (air-to-air, air-to-ground and anti-radiation, and anti-tank), rocket pods, grenade launchers and cluster bombs.
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