Bengaluru: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh hailed the contribution made by state-run HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd) towards nation-building, calling it the backbone of the Indian Defence Forces. While there is every reason to be happy about its performance, especially in the last five years, the company should prepare itself to take up challenges in the emerging market. HAL should see the competition as an opportunity, he said at Kannada Naada Habba, a cultural event organised at HAL on Thursday.
The Defence Minister also inaugurated the new LCH (Light Combat Helicopter) production hangar at the helicopter division on the same day in the presence of HAL CMD R Madhavan and other senior officials.
LCH is completely ready for operational induction and the Helicopter Complex is fully geared up for the production of LCH, said the HAL CMD. The new production hangar will augment LCH production capacity to reach a peak production of 30 helicopters per year, added GVS Bhaskar, CEO, Helicopter Complex. The techno-commercial proposal for 15 Limited Series Production (LSP) helicopters has already been submitted by HAL in March 2018 and the order is awaited. The total projected requirement is for around 160 helicopters.
HAL also apprised the Defence Minister on the progress made on the new design and development programme of indigenous Indian Multi Role Helicopter (IMRH). A full-scale mock-up was showcased to the minister. The IMRH (for IAF, Navy and Army) is proposed as a replacement to the existing medium lift helicopters such as Mi17s, Kamovs and Sea Kings which will phase out in the next eight to 10 years. HAL is keen on completing the development of IMRH during this time. The induction of indigenous IMRH will result in considerable savings of foreign exchange. Preliminary Project Report (PPR) for development has been submitted to the Ministry of Defence for sanction of funds by CCS.
LCH is a 5.5-tonne class combat helicopter designed and developed by HAL. It is powered by two Shakti engines and inherits many technical features of the Advanced Light Helicopter. The features that are unique to LCH are sleek and narrow fuselage, tri-cycle crashworthy landing gear, crashworthy and self-sealing fuel tanks, armour protection and low visibility features which makes it agile and survivable. LCH has the distinction of being the first attack helicopter to land in Forward Bases at Siachen, 4,700 mts above sea level with 500kg load. As part of development, four LCH prototypes have been built and extensively flight tested, with over 1,620 cumulative flights (1,239 flight hours). LCH received Initial Operation Clearance (IOC) on August 26, 2017, in the presence of the Defence Minister.