The first indigenously made light combat helicopter (LCH) in India has successfully completed its first ground run, and will now take its first flight in February 2010.

Announced in 2006, the LCH will meet the operational requirements including close air support, anti-infantry and anti-armour roles, as well as working in very high altitudes, for the air force and the army.

Developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in its Bangalore facility, the twin-engine LCH is derived from the Dhruv advance light helicopter, used by the air force.

The LCH’s Shakti engine has been jointly developed by HAL and Turbomeca of France.

The LCH will be armed with a 20mm cannon, four types of missiles (air-to-air, air-to-ground, anti-radiation and anti-tank), rocket pods, grenade launchers and cluster bombs.

The LCH will be fine-tuned for its first flight, during a repeated ground run that was started on 4 February.

The LCH is expected to be inducted into the air force and the army by the end of 2011.

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