Indian naval air station INS Utkrosh, which is under the joint-services Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) Command in the Bay of Bengal, has inducted into service the Mk III variant of the indigenous Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH). The induction marks a continuing increase in the capabilities of the A&N Command in the past two decades of its raising as India’s only joint theatre command. The Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) is the first and only tri-service theater command of the Indian Armed Forces, based at Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a Union Territory of India.
The ALH MK III aircraft is manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and represents a tremendous leap towards self-reliance in the field of military aircraft, in line with the government’s push towards ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’. Till date, over 300 of these aircraft have been delivered by HAL and are being flown by the Armed Forces. Amongst its variants, the MK III variant is a maritime role variant encompassing state-of-the-art sensors and weapons that add punch to India’s prowess at sea.
The Indian Navy (IN) has already equipped at least two of its naval air squadrons with the ALH Mk III, which is built by state-owned manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The Indian Navy commissioned its first Dhruv (Mk I) squadron in November 2013.Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) handed over three Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH MK III) to the Indian Navy and two ALHs to the Indian Coast Guard in February 2021 and three more in June 2021.
The ALH MK III aircraft with its glass cockpit, Shakti engines, advanced Maritime Patrol Radar, Electro–optical payload and Night Vision Device will act as a force multiplier in keeping India’s far eastern seaboard and Island territories safe. The 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 refueling system, control grip, EO POD Rev III, surveillance radar system and 12.7 mm gun system