The Indian Navy has got a new helicopter squadron. The Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) 323, the first unit of the indigenously built Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Mk III aircraft, was commissioned into the Indian Navy on Monday at the INS Hansa in Dabolim, Goa.
Raksha Rajya Mantri Shripad Naik and Vice Admiral R Hari Kumar, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western Naval Command were present at the induction ceremony of INAS 323.
Navy: Safeguarding Maritime Interests
Speaking on the occasion, the Raksha Rajya Mantri said that the commissioning of INAS 323 marked yet another milestone in the efforts towards enhancing maritime security and safeguarding maritime interests of the nation, as also embodying the spirit of Atma Nirbhar Bharat.
The squadron will operate three state-of-the-art ALH Mk III, a multirole helicopter with Shakti engine manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
The Mk III version of the ALH has an all glass cockpit and will be used for Search and Rescue, Special Operations and Coastal Surveillance. Presently 16 aircraft are under procurement and the aircraft are being delivered in a phased manner to the Indian Navy.
INAS 323 is commanded by Cdr Samik Nundy, an accomplished and experienced ALH pilot with extensive operational experience.
In February 2021, the HAL had handed over three Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH MK III) to the Indian Navy and two ALHs to the Indian Coast Guard.
The helicopters were handed over during Aero India 2021 by R. Madhaven, CMD, HAL to Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of Naval Staff and K. Natarajan, DG, Coast Guard, in the presence of the Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh.
Improved Vibration Control System
The Indian Navy commissioned its first Dhruv (Mk I) squadron in November 2013. HAL is under contract to deliver 16 ALH Mk III, an improved version equipped with Shakti-1H engines, new electronic warfare (EW) suite and warning systems, automatic chaff and flare dispensers, and improved vibration control system.
ALH has logged close to 3,000,000 cumulative flight hours and has proven its merit in versatile operations.
According to manufacturer HAL, the ALH Mk III contract involves integration of 19 major systems with the existing ALH MK III that includes IFF MKXII & ATC Xpdr with ADS-B Out, V/UHF communication system, traffic alert and collision avoidance (TCAS-I), SAR Homer system, automatic deployable emergency locator transmitter (ADELT), loud hailer, radio altimeter, rescue basket, medical intensive care unit (MICU), IADS system, AFCS, digital video recording system (SSDVR), automatic identification system (AIS), high intensity search light (HISL), pressure refuelling system, control grip, EO POD Rev III, surveillance radar system and 12.7 mm gun system.
The indigenously designed and developed Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH-DHRUV) is a twin engine, multi-role, multi-mission new generation helicopter in the 5.5 ton weight class. The basic Helicopter is produced in skid version and wheeled version. Dhruv is “type –Certified” for Military operations by the Centre for Military Airworthiness Certification (CEMILAC) and civil operations by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
Certification of the utility military variant was completed in 2002 and that of the civil variant was completed in 2004. The deliveries of production series helicopters commenced from 2001-02 onwards. A total of 228 Helicopters have been produced by March 2017 including 216 for the Indian Armed Forces.
The major variants of Dhruv are classified as Dhruv Mk-I, Mk-II, Mk-III and Mk-IV.
Shakti Engine Features (For Dhruv Mk-III & Mk-IV)
- 12 % Higher power than TM 333 2B2 engine
- Dual centrifugal compressor assembly
- Single crystal blades
- Dual channel FADEC
- Passenger / Commuter Role
- VIP Travel
- Causality Evacuation
- Under Slung Load
- Rapid Deployment of Forces
- Logistic Air Support
- Search and Rescue
Features of Dhruv
- Composite Hinge less Interchangeable Main Rotor Blades
- Composite Bearing less Tail Rotor Blades
- Composite Air Frame
- Glass Cockpit & AFCS
- Chaff & Flare Dispenser
- Helmet Pointing System (HPS)
- Health & Usage Monitoring System
- Digital Video Recording System
- EO Pod with FLIR, LRF & LP
- IR Suppressor
- Integrated Self Protection Suite
- Digital Moving Map
- On Board Inert Gas Generation System
Orders for Dhruv
According to HAL, more than 200 Dhruvs are operating with Indian Defence Forces. HAL is executing an order for 159 Dhruv helicopters from Indian Army and IAF which is under supply. Further, HAL bagged orders for 73 ALH in 2017 from Army, Coast Guard and Navy for ALH Mk-III and Mk-IV variants.
Dhruv has also been supplied to Nepal Army & Mauritius Police, Maldives and is also being operated by Civil customers such as ONGC, GSI, Government of Jharkhand and Para-Military force (BSF). HAL expects orders for Dhruv from Defence, Civil and Export markets.