India’s indigenous Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) tries to keep warm, while staying cool at the same time. Manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the Indian Air Force and Indian Army put the technology demonstrator of the time through some proper winter trials.
Place of action was Air Force Station Leh and the star of the show was prototype TD-2, featuring a nice camouflage dress. “The trials covered engine starts with internal batteries after overnight cold soak at 3 and 4.1 kilometres altitude,” says HAL Chairman Mr. T. Suvarna Raju, meaning about 9,800 to 13,450 feet. “The engine starts were satisfactory in the temperature of minus 18 degree Celsius at 4.1 km. The flights were also carried out to assess high altitude performance and low speed handling.”
The test flight fleet is soon four machines strong. TD-3 joined took to the skies for the first time in November 2014, and TD-4 will come soon. “Building more prototypes and increasing the number of flights will reduce the lead-time for Initial Operational Capability,” HAL boss Raju states.
The LCH is of 5.5 ton class attack helicopter, powered by two Shakti engines and inherits many technical features of the Advanced Light Helicopter or Dhruv. 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. The helicopter will have day/night targeting systems including a helmet pointed sight and electro-optical pod consisting of a CCD camera, a forward-looking infrared (FLIR), a Laser Range Finder (LRF) and a Laser Designator (LD).
The LCH is fitted with self-protection suite consisting of radar/laser missile warning systems and a counter measures dispensing system. The first prototype helicopter had its inaugural flight in May 2010. The second prototype flew in June 2011.
Current plans call for 65 HAL Light Combat Helicopters for the Indian Air Force and 114 for the Indian Army.
Source: Hindustan Aeronautics Limited / Indian Ministry of Defence
Featured image: The HAL Light Combat Helicopter prototype TD-2 in cold weather testing near Air Force Station Leh (Image © Hindustan Aeronautics Limited)