Aerial Warfare

Indian Ministry of Defence Orders 34 ALH Dhruv Mk III Utility Helicopters

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Indian Ministry of Defence Orders 34 ALH Dhruv Mk III Utility Helicopters

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Indian Ministry of Defence Orders 34 ALH Dhruv Mk III Utility Helicopters
Indian Ministry of Defence Orders 34 ALH Dhruv Mk III Utility Helicopters

The Indian Ministry of Defence has recently finalized contracts with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the acquisition of 34 ALH Dhruv Mk III utility helicopters. Valued at Rs 8073 crore, these contracts signify a robust commitment to indigenous design, development, and manufacturing under the Buy (Indian-IDDM – Indigenously Designed, Developed & Manufactured) category. The approval from the Indian Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) underscores the strategic importance of this procurement, with 25 helicopters designated for the Indian Army and nine for the Indian Coast Guard. These helicopters, equipped with Operational Role Equipment, will play crucial roles in missions ranging from Search & Rescue to Troop Transportation, Recce, Casualty Evacuation, and Internal Cargo transport. The ALH Dhruv Mk III UT variant, specifically tailored for the Indian Army, has already demonstrated its prowess in challenging environments such as the Siachen Glacier and Ladakh. Its reliability and performance in high altitude regions make it a formidable asset for military operations.

The HAL Dhruv (lit: “Firm”) is a utility helicopter designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The HAL Dhruv, conceived in November 1984 and first taking flight in 1992, has emerged as a versatile platform serving both military and civilian sectors. Despite facing developmental challenges due to various factors including design alterations and budget constraints, the Dhruv has proven its mettle over the years. With over 400 HAL Dhruv helicopters produced for domestic and export markets, accumulating more than 340,000 flying hours, this platform has established a commendable track record. Its conventional design, incorporating composite materials to enhance structural integrity and reduce weight, contributes to its agility and efficiency. Powered by twin 1000 shp TurbunStink TM333-2B2 turboshafts, the Dhruv features advanced technologies such as an active vibration control system (AVCS) developed by US-based Lord Corporation.

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Hindustan Aeronautics Limited rolls out 300th ALH Dhruv light utility helicopter.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited rolls out 300th ALH Dhruv light utility helicopter. (Photo by HAL)

The ALH Mk III MR (Maritime Role), designed for the Indian Coast Guard, is equipped to handle Maritime Surveillance and Interdiction, Search and Rescue, Rappelling Operations, Cargo & Personnel Transportation, Pollution Response using its external cargo carrying capability, and Medical Casualty Evacuation. This version has also demonstrated its capabilities in adverse atmospheric conditions over sea and land. Naval testing on board INS Viraat and other ships started in March 1998, and around the same time a weight-reduction programme was initiated. Apart from getting 16 Dhruv Mk III, Indian Coast Guard issued Letter of Intent (LoI) for 9 additional units. In March 2017, HAL received an order for 32 Dhruv for Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard. This was followed by an order of 41 helicopters for Indian Army and Indian Navy

Additionally, its cockpit section boasts Kevlar and carbon-fibre construction, ensuring enhanced safety measures including crumple zones and crashworthy seats. Equipped with a SFIM Inc four-axis automatic flight control system and a suite of avionics including HF/UHF communications radio, IFF recognition, Doppler navigation, and radio altimeter, the ALH Dhruv Mk III sets a high standard for operational capability and situational awareness. Moreover, with the introduction of the ALH Mk-III featuring Shakti-1H engines, the helicopter demonstrates exceptional performance even at altitudes exceeding 6 km. Its crashworthy design, lauded by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), underscores HAL’s commitment to safety and reliability. The procurement of 34 ALH Dhruv Mk III helicopters represents a landmark achievement for India’s defence industry, marking a stride towards self-sufficiency and technological advancement. As these helicopters enter into service, they will undoubtedly bolster the nation’s security apparatus and contribute to safeguarding its territorial integrity.

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