Sporting a new digital camouflage paint job, the second technology demonstrator for Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.’s (HAL) Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) was unveiled at last week’s Aero India 2011 show.

According to HAL, the paint job will give the helicopter an edge during crucial engagements, allowing it to duck enemy night-vision devices.

“This new paint scheme would give the LCH a great advantage as it [makes it difficult] to be spotted by any thermal image devices,” says Wing Cdr. Unnil Pillai, HAL’s chief test pilot.

HAL’s managing director for helicopters, P. Soundara Rajan, says the technology has given a huge confidence boost to pilots and designers. “It is a major breakthrough for us,“ Rajan says.

HAL says the LCH project will benefit from the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter program. “We have learned lessons from the past [making Dhruv],” Pillai says. “Now, LCH will get many advantages during the prototype testing stage itself.”

The first technology demonstrator for LCH, TD-1, flew in May 2010 and HAL now hopes to have the TD-2’s first flight within 2 months.

“While entering Aero India 2011, the TD-1 had clocked 60 hours, logging 60 flights,” Pillai says. “The project is very much under control . . . and moving ahead in the right direction.”

For LCH, HAL has used the same line replacement units as the Dhruv. “The equipment, tooling and jigs are all modern, giving the product a distinct cutting-edge look,” Pillai adds. “What makes LCH more lethal is its ability to fly at extreme angles [70-80 deg.] in the nose-down mode. No helicopter in the [Indian air force] inventory can do this difficult maneuver. It shows the handling capabilities of the platform and also the power of the Shakti engine.”