Indian aerospace giant, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), has completed development of the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), and has said it will test-fly the craft by the year-end. The LCH is expected to fulfill a major need of the armed forces as it will provide them a gunship that will be able to operate in extreme high altitudes above 9,000 feet.
The announcement comes even as the IAF recently floated international tenders for the purchase of 22 advanced helicopter gunships. The contending global companies will include a Eurocopter offering, Boeing's AH-54D, Augusta Westland's AW-129 Mangustu and Russia's MI-28N Night Hunters.
According to HAL officials, work on the project was progressing as per schedule. They pointed out that though it took them five years to design the Advanced Light Helicopter 'Dhruv' they have completed design work on the LCH in just 16-17 months.
The LCH is expected to be equipped with helmet-mounted targeting systems, electronic warfare systems and advanced weapons systems.