India’s first attack copter takes flight

India’s first indigenous attack helicopter took to the skies on Sunday morning, marking the country’s entry into a league of select nations that can design and manufacture the complex rotary wing attack aircraft. The maiden flight of the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) was kept a low-key affair after Defence Minister A K Antony canceled his visit in the wake of Saturday’s air crash at Mangalore.

The LCH, which has been developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at a cost of Rs 376 crore, will now go through a series of rigorous tests and evaluations over the next few years before its planned induction into the Army and Air Force by 2014-15.

The twin engined LCH has been derived from the in-service Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) with the Air Force placing orders for 65 choppers and the Army planning to induct 114 over the coming years. The LCH took its first flight 21 years after a light attack helicopter was conceptualised by HAL based in the IAF requirement in 1989. However, the LCH programme was given clearance by the government only in October 2006.



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