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SOURCE: SATYAJEET KUMAR/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

Prime Minister Narinder Modi handed over the first batch of Light Combat Helicopters (LCH) to the Indian Air Force (IAF) that is part of the first 15 Limited Series Production (LSP) for which the Indian Army and Indian Air Force have issued a letter of intended to buy them but have simply not paid up state-owned Public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) company that has manufactured it with Internal funds for which it had to borrow money from the State-owned Banks just because our Generals and Airforce Bosses are still not been able to procure locally developed system in large numbers.

LCH already has completed all its Developmental trials and was born out of the Indian Army requirements that date backs to the Kargil War when Mi-35 Hind Attack Helicopters were not able to be deployed because they lacked the power to operate at such altitudes but the Indian Army seems to be no hurry to place orders for a weapons systems that could come as a game-changer in the region where it is currently in a standoff with the Chinese Army.

Chatter is that the Indian Army has grown fond of ALH-Rudra an armed variant of ALH-Dhruv that can be used as a Dual-Purpose helicopter since it carries more passengers than just its Two Pilots. Army already has inducted 65 of the ALH-Rudra and considers it a better option and better priced than LCH due to which it has creeped in hesitance towards the LCH Program.

Another rumored factor has been that lack of Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) on the LCH Weapons program and slow pace of development of ATGM for the Helicopters by DRDO is one of the reasons are not ready to invest in the system. A few years ago then Army Chief Bipin Rawat had called ALH-Rudra and LCH Toothless due to lack of ATGM on them due to constant delays in the ATGM program led by DRDO.

Since the Indian Army is supposed to be the biggest operator of the LCH, IAF seems to just piggyback on the orders of the Indian Army due to which it wants Army to go ahead and procure them in numbers so that the air force could follow when Army has ironed out any teething issues if any in the product it seems to be buying only to show that it continues to have command over such assets that recently have been reasons behind tussle between Indian Army Aviation Corps ( AAC) and Indian Air Force (IAF).

Whatever might be the actual reasons behind the delays in procurement of the LCH. Our Generals and Airforce chiefs are yet to get rid of the Customer hat that they continue to wear instead of becoming operators and developers of the local system along with Public sector companies. Such cold responses from the Armed forces will not help the LCH program and also will dent its image to its prospective customers that might be interested in their procurement.

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Article by SATYAJEET KUMAR ,  cannot be republished Partially or Full without consent from Writer or idrw.org