NEW DELHI: India is in talks with “certain” countries in Africa for possible export of the indigenous Light Combat Helicopter even as the Defense Ministry has set a target of USD 2 billion worth of exports over the next two years.
The weapons trial of the LCH is planned in July-August this year. While the Army has placed an order for 114 LCH with state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, the IAF has ordered 65.
The successful demonstration of the LCH in firing 70 mm rockets was conducted during the Iron Fist exercise of the IAF held recently.
The certification trials with integration of mission sensors such as electro optical system, helmet pointing system and weapon system like air to air missiles, turret gun and rockets are planned between July and August this year.
“We are in talks with certain countries in Africa who have evinced interest in the LCH. With great value for money, the helicopter is an attractive buy for many countries,” a senior defense official said.
Asked why the countries would be interested in a chopper which is yet to get final certification, the official said, “The certification is a formal process. The countries interested in the LCH in the current form do not need high features like air to air missiles. For them turret gun along with some other features work.”
LCH is a 5.5-tonne class combat helicopter designed and developed by HAL.
Its features include sleek and narrow fuselage, tri-cycle crash worthy landing gear, crash worthy and self-sealing fuel tanks, armor protection, nuclear and low visibility features which makes the LCH lethal, agile and survivable.
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.-PTI