In a crucial Defence development, the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has announced that the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) designed and developed by it has successfully completed weapons trials. The Defence PSU said the combat chopper is now ready to be inducted into the Air Force and the Army.

The HAL said on Thursday that the LCH has successfully carried out air-to-air missile firing on a moving aerial target. This is a milestone in its development, it stated. Apart from the missile, other weapons on the combat chopper include a 20mm turret gun and 70 mm rockets. The trials for other weapons were completed last year itself.

“The LCH achieved a milestone by carrying out air-to-air missile firing on a moving aerial target,” HAL said in a statement.

IANS reported that the weapon trials were held at the integrated test range in Chandipur on the Odisha coast. Test pilot Wing Commander (retired) Subash P John, HAL flight test engineer Col Ranjit Chitale (retired) and Indian Air Force (IAF) test pilot Group Captain Rajeev Dubey.

“During the tests, a direct hit on the aerial target was achieved, destroying it completely,” the statement by the Defence major noted.

HAL chairman and managing director R Madhavan said it is the first time in India that a chopper has successfully fired an air-to-air missile and intercepted a moving target.

“With this, LCH has completed all weapon integration tests and is ready for operational induction,” the chairman said. “LCH is the only attack helicopter in the world capable of operating at altitudes as high as Siachen Glacier (in the Karakoram mountain range of the Himalayas),” the company stated.

Helmet mounted sight and infrared sighting system incorporate on the chopper make it easier for the pilots to detect and destroy any target on ground or in the air.

“Using these sights, pilots can launch a missile onto any target without having to turn the helicopter,” it said.

“Capable of operating from dispersed locations and flying at ultra-low levels, LCH can provide a protective umbrella from all aerial threats,” it added.

It may be noted that as per the procurement cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council, 15 LCHs are being manufactured in the first batch and 10 of them will be inducted in the IAF while the remaining five in the Indian Army.