Light Combat Helicopter prototype to fly next year: HAL chairman

Bangalore: The first prototype of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) designed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) will be ready for its maiden flight between October and December next year, according to HAL chairman Ashok K Baweja. According to Baweja, the detailed design drawing of the LCH would be ready by December this year.

"We will be then releasing the drawings to make parts. The first prototype should be ready between October and December 2008," he told presspersons. Baweja was speaking on the sidelines of a seminar on Helicopter Technology here on Tuesday.

Eventually, the LCH is expected to become part of the Indian Air Force''s attack helicopter squadrons.

Baweja also spoke about HAL''s current project to develop a 10-tonne attack helicopter. In this regard he mentioned that HAL was now looking for development partners. "We are at the stage of firming up specifications with the customers and finding partners. Work is in the preparatory mode. The helicopter will have to be configured for Indian conditions, very high altitudes and very hot temperatures. Most machines in the world are a little short on that," he explained.

The 10-tonne copter will be in the same class as the Mi-17 and will augment the current fleet of the three-tonne class observation choppers and the six-tonne class Dhruv. It would initially be produced as a military version.