India’s Home-Grown LCH to Start Live Firing Trial of French Mistral Missiles

India’s locally developed Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) fitted with French-made Mistral air to air missile (ATAM) will undergo live firing trials from the end of this year. The LCH is capable of carrying four Mistrals on each wing which can intercept the target at a range of up to 6.5 kilometers. French defense firm MBDA Missile Systems expects the live firing trial of the approximately 19-kilogram missile system will go as planned.

India's state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) had begun production of the LCH last month. The LCH is also equipped with a 20 mm turret gun, 70 mm rocket, electro-optical pod, and helmet pointing system. In November last year, Indian defense ministry had approved a fund of approximately $450 million for the procurement of 15 LCHs as a "limited series production" (LSP) order. The light combat helicopter is pegged at around $35 million per unit which is less than half the cost of American AH-64E Apache attack helicopters.
Meanwhile, MBDA also expects to kick-start negotiations with India in the next few days for supplying Mistral ATAM for another armed helicopter Rudra. Rudra which is awaiting its most potent weapon since the last four years is capable of carrying two missiles on each wing in comparison to four of LCH. Rudra was handed over to the Indian Army in 2013. The Indian Army plans to deploy a squadron of armed Rudra, consisting of up to 12 Rudra Mk IVs, at Likabali military station in Assam.


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