Made-in-India recce jet, Light Combat Helicopter steals aero show

Made-in-India recce jet, Light Combat Helicopter steals aero show

2013
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Made-in-India recce jet, Light Combat Helicopter steals aero show

Make in India’ seems to be the focus of this year’s Aero India. The 11th edition of Asia’s biggest aviation spectacle started at the Yelahanka airbase in Bengaluru on Tuesday.

A day after the IAF inducted the first indigenously developed all-weather airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) system on the inaugural day of the show, the Army on Wednesday tested the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), a multirole combat chopper developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited that is likely to get initial operational clearance soon. Defence PSU Bharat Electronics Ltd also unveiled a remote-controlled weapon system for the Army’s Arjun tanks that will enable a soldier to fire the mounted machine gun at aerial targets from the safe interiors of a tank

The desi AEW&C, developed by the Centre for Airborne Systems in Bengaluru and integrated on Brazilian-made Embraer-145 aircraft, will add to the surveillance capabilities of the IAF. Currently, the air force has three Phalcon systems, which uses the Israeli early-warning radars mounted atop Russian IL-76 aircraft. However, the latest AEW&C addition and two more in the pipeline will not put India on a par with China or even Pakistan. While China has over 20 AWACS, including the new KJ-500s that can track over 60 aircraft at ranges up to 470km, Pakistan has four Swedish AEW&C aircraft and four Chinese-origin surveillance aircraft.

The LCH, armed with a gun, rockets, air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, is a potent force multiplier and will greatly enhance the Army’s combat capability. DG Army Aviation Corps Lt Gen Kanwal Kumar, who flew an LCH at the airbase for half-an-hour on Wednesday, said, “It is a matter of great pride for the nation to have developed an indigenous combat helicopter.” The combat chopper, which has come a long way from its first flight in March 2010, has been designed to meet the need of the Army and IAF for an attack helicopter.