Indian Naval Air Squadron 324 was commissioned into the Indian Navy in the presence of Vice Admiral Biswajit Dasgupta, AVSM, YSM, VSM Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command at an impressive Commissioning Ceremony held at INS Dega, Visakhapatnam on 04 Jul 22. The unit is the first Naval Squadron on the Eastern Seaboard operating the indigenously designed and built Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) MK III (MR) helicopters. INAS 324 has been named “KESTRELS” which are birds of prey and have good sensory capabilities symbolising the envisaged role of the Aircraft and the Air Squadron.
The Insignia of the Squadron depicts a ‘KESTREL’ searching over vast blue and white sea waves, which signifies the integral Maritime Reconnaissance (MR) and Search and Rescue (SAR) role of the Squadron. Addressing the gathering. Vice Admiral Biswajit Dasgupta stated that the commissioning of the first ALH MK III Squadron in the Eastern Naval Command will enhance the surveillance capability on the Eastern Seaboard. INAS 324 is commanded by Cdr SS Dash, an accomplished and highly experienced ALH Qualified Flying Instructor with extensive operational experience.
ALH MK III helicopters are fitted with state-of-the-art equipment which includes modern surveillance radar and electro-optical sensors. Induction of these flying machines is, in pursuance of the GOI initiative of Atma Nirbhar Bharat, as they have been developed and manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). In addition to their primarily roles of MR and SAR, these helicopters can also be deployed for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief(HADR) Operations as well as Special Operations with Marine Commandos. The helicopter also has an airborne Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) for use in the Air Ambulance role.
The HAL Dhruv is a utility helicopter designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The development of HAL Dhruv was announced in November 1984. The name comes from a Sanskrit origin word dhruv which means unshakeable or firm. The Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) program for an indigenous 5-ton multirole helicopter was initiated in May 1979 by the Indian Air Force and Indian Naval Air Arm. The ALH Mk-III with new Shakti-1H engines, new electronic warfare (EW) suite and warning systems, automatic chaff and flare dispensers, and improved vibration control system has very good high altitude performance operating at altitudes over 6 km.