Lots of responses to the LCH overweight article! That was a news article, so it had only pure reporting, but here are some of my views.
600 kg overweight is a huge problem. It means that a helicopter that was to have an empty weight of 2500 kg has gone overweight by almost 25%.
Forget what ASRs say! The LCH has been designed specifically for India’s high altitude conditions. It takes off from altitudes of 3 kilometers (9800 feet), loiters and operates at altitudes of up to 5 kilometers (16,400 feet), and engages targets like UAVs that are flying at altitudes of up to 6.5 kilometers (21,300 feet). At those altitudes, 600 kg extra is a killer. No question about that.
Prasun, Seshadri’s statement is quite clear. He indicates that the total payload at 20,000 feet will be some 350-500 kg. The cannon and its turret are not payload. They are a part of the helicopter fitment. Their ammunition, however, is payload. As are the missiles, rockets (the pods are not payload, they are fitment), etc.
Some weight will come off the LCH by using lighter material for the fuel tanks. That’s fine. Some will come off by using ceramics instead of metal for instrument panels etc. That’s fine too. But what is not fine is that some of the weight could come off by reducing armour protection.
Defence Materials Research Laboratory (DMRL), Hyderabad has developed the armour for the LCH from ceramic plates. The pilots’ area was designed to withstand a direct hit at 90 degrees from a 12.7 mm armour-piercing round. To put that in perspective (Perspex-tive… Ha! Ha!) some of the IAF Mi-35s, which were deployed in Congo, took hits from 12.7 mm AP rounds. They penetrated right through the armoured glass of the Mi-35. And that’s a much heavier machine.
The landing gear cannot be lightened anytime soon. It has a crash-resistance capability of 10.5 m/sec, which the IAF considers absolutely necessary. I agree with them.
Lots of things that bloggers have written about the Comanche are correct. But every cancelled project has a whole mythology of reasons for why it got cancelled. In the final balance, the Comanche was cancelled, not because the Soviet Union went away, but because it was turning out to be a hugely expensive development programme that was eating up time and money.
The cost of the LCH programme, it would be worth noting, is less than the cost of the compensation paid to Boeing-Sikorsky for terminating the Comanche development. Think about that.
And the figure of 179 LCHs includes the 65 that the IAF is buying, while the army is interested in picking up 114 LCHs.