LCH: Prachanda gives India heavy air defence lift

Image credit Defence Minister Rajnath Singh

Image credit Defence Minister Rajnath Singh

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By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, October 3: Twenty three years after the Central government first though of an indigenous helicopter, Union Minister for Defence Rajnath Singh whirred to touch significant heights under the blue sky in Jodhpur in a Light Combat Helicopter (LCH).

Singh called the LCH Prachanda that will be deployed with the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army.

The formal induction of Prachanda, which was welcomed by Sukhoi fighter jets in the sky, comes close on the heels of the commissioning of the INS Vikrant, which was built by the Kochi Shipyard, giving the Indian Navy a massive strength to lord over the Indian Ocean.

Prachanda, which was conceived by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government at the Centre, is loaded with 20 mm gun, 70 mm rockets and other weapons. The helicopter could operate at a height of 16500 feet. It will be part of 143 Helicopter unit called Dhanush and stationed at Jodhpur, Rajasthan.

The LCH has been designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

“Its induction comes during the Amrit kal when the nation is celebrating Azadi ka Amrit Mahostav and a pointer to the future when IAF will be the top most force in the world, as also making the country fully Atmanirbhar in Defence production requirements,’ said Singh afgter taking a sortie onboard the LCH shortly after its induction into IAF.

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Anil Chauhan, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhary, Air Marshal Vikram Singh Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, South Western Air Command, Chairman and Managing Director of HAL C.B. Ananthakrishnan, senior officials of Ministry of Defence, IAF and local dignitaries were present on the occasion.

“The induction of LCH, with its tremendous power and versatility, not only enhances the combat capabilities of IAF but is also a big step towards self-reliance in defense production, as envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The trust reposed and support extended by the IAF towards indigenous design and development is evident through the examples such as Marut, Light Combat Aircraft, Akash missile system, Advanced Light Helicopter and the Light Combat Helicopter,” said Singh.

Since the Kargil War in 1999, the need for LCH was felt more and today’s LCH was a result of two decades of R&D and indigenous efforts in that direction, he added.

The Kargil War had revealed that India needed high altitude assault Helicopter capabilities for mountain warfare, with the Himalayas emerging as the target zone for both the neighbours – Pakistan and China – to test New Delhi’s capacities to guard its borders.

“The LCH is the first indigenous multi-role combat helicopter. It has potent ground attack and aerial combat capability. The helicopter possesses modern stealth characteristics, robust armour protection and formidable night attack capability. Onboard advanced navigation system, guns tailored for close combat and potent air to air missiles make the LCH especially suited for the modern battlefield. Capable of operating from high altitude terrain and carrying out precision strike at high altitude targets, the helicopter is a formidable addition to IAF’s arsenal,” said the Ministry of Defence in an official statement.

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