NEW DELHI — India will conduct weapons tests of its domestic-made Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) in July and August, the defense minister said.
"LCH certification firing trials with integration of mission sensors such as the electro-optical system, helmet pointing system and weapon systems — air-to-air missiles, turret gun and rockets — are planned during July and August 2016," Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar told parliament Tuesday.
Built by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the LCH is a two-engine, 5.5-ton helicopter capable of carrying air-to-air missiles, 20mm guns, unguided rockets, cluster bombs, grenade launchers and anti-radiation missiles.
HAL successfully tested the LCH's 70mm rocket in March, checking for system integration, structural integrity, noise and vibration, system functionality and the safe separation of rockets, Parrikar said.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is buying 65 LCH at a cost of $1.4 billion, one HAL source said. The three defense forces have requested a total of 180.
Four technology demonstrators are undergoing flight testing, said Gopal Sutar, a HAL spokesman.
Designed for anti-tank and anti-infantry roles with a maximum speed of 275 kilometers per hour, the LCH is also capable of high-altitude warfare since its operational ceiling will be 16,000 to 18,000 feet.
It is equipped with missile warning systems, anti-missile countermeasures and cockpit displays that are capable of night attacks. It carries a domestically developed gyro-stabilized sighting system comprising a high-performance thermal imager and laser rangefinder, which can detect a tank target up to 4 kilometers.
The LCH is also capable of destroying unmanned aerial vehicles, slow-moving aircraft, tanks and armored and infantry combat vehicles.