The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the acquisition of 156 Prachand Light Combat Helicopters (LCH), which will cost the country’s exchequer about $5.4bn.

This procurement is expected reduce dependence on imports of foreign attack helicopters such as the AH-64 Apache, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

The LCH can be equipped with an arsenal of air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, 70 mm rockets, and 20 mm turret guns, delivering critical fire support to infantry units in high-altitude contested regions, where Indian forces are actively engaged in defensive manoeuvres against adversaries.

The introduction of the Prachand LCH will augment the combat capabilities of the Indian Armed Forces, due to the helicopter’s operational proficiency at altitudes exceeding 5,000 metres. This can ensure efficient logistical support for troops stationed in challenging terrain.

GlobalData’s report “Global Military Rotorcraft Market Forecast 2024-2034” reveals that India’s investment in procuring attack helicopters is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.5% over the next 10 years.

Venkatesh Kandlikar, Aerospace & Defence Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “With more than 50% of its equipment to be locally produced, the LCH procurement program will ensure a consistent supply of critical parts, mitigating risks associated with supply chain disruptions and enhancing the availability rate of these helicopter units, which is crucial for maintaining a formidable defence posture for the Indian Armed Forces. Over time, the increased production of Prachand LCH is anticipated to gradually phase out existing inventories of attack helicopters like the Mi-35.”

Kandlikar adds: “The Indian government, along with prioritising the protection of its borders and national interests, recognises the export potential of the Prachand LCH platform, aligning with its ambitious defence export goals. Leveraging its robust military-industrial complex and growing expertise in aerospace and defence manufacturing, India aims to strengthen its position as a reliable supplier of aerial platforms in the global aerospace and defence market.”

The Prachand LCH will be a suitable platform for nations like Egypt, Nigeria, Argentina, and the Philippines, all of whom have indicated interest in purchasing similar platforms to support their ground forces and carry out counter-insurgency operations. India’s HAL will look for growing opportunities in Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia for advanced combat helicopters.

Kandlikar concludes: “The RFP for the Prachand LCH serves as a vital support for bolstering HAL’s production lines and its network of local suppliers. The meeting of HAL’s delivery commitments for ALH Dhruv Mark IV ordered earlier is indicative of the company’s capabilities in timely delivery of the upcoming LCH units.

“The fulfilment of such projects further drives HAL’s long-term goals, aiming for the production of about 1,000 helicopter units of varying tonnage over the next two decades. Amidst escalating tensions with China and Pakistan, India’s possession of a substantial helicopter inventory underscores its readiness to defend its borders with homegrown capabilities while providing continued support to domestic defence suppliers.”