Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has completed maiden test flight of the third technology demonstrator version of the light combat helicopter (LCH TD-3) from its facility in Bangalore, India.
Piloted by wing commander Unni Pillai with group captain SHK Nair as co-pilot, the twin-seater aircraft took off from the helipad of the Helicopter Division of HAL and flew for 20 minutes before landing.
The helicopter was escorted by a Dhruv helicopter during the flight test.
HAL chairman RK Tyagi said: "It will be an effective weapon platform to deliver precision strikes at high altitude and we are confident it will meet the requirements of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
"We are making all efforts to achieve IOC by September next year."
The state-run HAL is under contract to manufacture a total of 179 LCHs, with 65 would be handed over to the IAF, while the remaining 114 choppers would be delivered to the Indian Army.
The LACH project covered design and development of two technology demonstrators, one full scale mock-up, one break away fuselage (BAF), as well as IOC.
Later, a series of LCH-related projects were sanctioned during the course of development, to include modified rotor system, production of TD-3 and TD-4 for acceleration of development flight testing, indigenous development of integrated avionics. A display system and automatic flight control system to help reduce reliance on foreign vendors were also approved.
While LCH-TD-1 and LCH-TD-2 were flown in March 2010, and June 2011, respectively, BAF successfully completed limit load testing in October 2012.
Since then, TD-1 and TD-2, LCH have together flown 388 times logging 285 hours and ten minutes.
Meanwhile, TD-3 and TD-4 are scheduled to be used to test the helicopter’s operational parameters under cold and hot weather and weapon firing trials.
LCH is a derivative of the HAL Dhruv. It is designed for several roles, including tracking slow-moving aerial targets, insurgency, destroying enemy defences, search and rescue, anti-tank and scouting.
Image: LCH TD 3 during its maiden flight test in Bangalore, India. Photo: courtesy of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.