Madurai, Sept 03: Plane-maker Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) said on Thursday that it had successfully carried out the hot and the high-altitude trials of home-grown attack platform - the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) -- at Leh.
HAL Chairman and Managing Director T Suvarna Raju told OneIndia that the latest set of trials were crucial for the programmes Initial Operational Clearance (IOC).
"We are extremely satisfied with the trials and the programme is on the expected flightpath. The flight trials at Leh have established hover performance and low speed handling characteristics of the helicopter under extreme weather conditions at different altitudes (3200-4800 m)," Raju said.
HAL claimed that LCH has proven its capability to land and take off at Forward Landing Base in Siachen.
"We are happy to announce that LCH is the first attack helicopter to land in Forward Bases at Siachen," Raju said.
LCH's 3rd prototype did the Leh duties
HAL said that the trials were carried out on the third prototype of LCH (TD3) at Leh. The temperatures during the trials ranged from 13 to 27 degree centigrade.
The trial team included pilots from the Indian Air Force, Army and representatives from the certifying agencies -- CEMILAC and DGAQA.
Among the tests conducted includes, assessment and validation of flight envelope in ‘hot-and-high' conditions, culminating in landing at forward bases at geographic elevations of 13,600 feet to 15,800 feet.
"The landings and take-offs were demonstrated with reasonable amount of weapon load and fuel. This is another critical feature of the current trials," Raju added.
Leh trials are always packed with challenges
HAL officials say that the Leh trails are always packed with many challenges and surprises.
"The upper reaches of the Indus river and its tributaries, Nubra and Shyok are home to the mighty Ladakh and Eastern Karakorum Ranges, with multiple lofty peaks over 25,000 feet and an average ridgeline elevation of 20,000 feet. It is also home to the largest glaciated area outside the Polar Regions and is sometimes called the Third Pole," says an official.
The Siachen is the largest glacier here and is central to this region. The area experiences a period of summer during July-August in which temperatures soar to 30 degrees above standard atmosphere conditions.
"This mix of extreme altitudes and relatively high temperatures (‘hot-and-high') saps helicopter performance and as such, a few types of helicopters are able to operate effectively all year around," he adds.
The LCH story so far
Then programme has so far witnessed all the three prototypes of LCH being extensively used for the trails in the last couple of years.
In additional to the routine trials in Bengaluru, LCH had its sea level tests at Chennai in November 2013, cold weather missions in Leh during January/February 2015, hot weather at Jodhpur in July 2015 and hot and high altitude trials at a few days ago again at Leh.
"The performance and handling qualities of the helicopter have been established for basic configuration, including electro-optical pod, rocket launchers, turret gun and air-to-air missile launchers," add the official.
The development activities are under progress and the weapon firing trials are planned during in the middle of 2016.