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Indian Naval Air Squadron 323 Inducts Indigenously Built Advance Light Helicopters Mk III

Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) 323, the first unit of the indigenously built ALH Mk III aircraft, was commissioned into the Indian Navy. The squadron will operate three state-of-the-art ALH Mk III, a multirole helicopter with Shakti engine manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). This will pave the way for Indian navy's naval utility helicopters under the indigenous effort.

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Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) 323, the first unit of the indigenously built ALH Mk III  aircraft, was commissioned into the Indian Navy in the presence of Rajya Mantri Shripad Naik and Vice Admiral R Hari Kumar, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western Naval Command, at INS Hansa, Goa on 19 Apr 21. 

Defence Minister (Mos) remarked that commissioning of INAS 323 set 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 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.  INAS 323 is commanded by Cdr Samik Nundy, an accomplished and experienced ALH pilot with extensive operational experience.

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 Indian Navy had ordered 16 Mk-III to supplement its ageing and depleting fleet of Alouettes (Chetaks) - from HAL.

Technical feature of  ALH MK III

Shakti Engine (For Dhruv Mk-III & Mk-IV) has 12 % Higher power than  its predecessor TM 333 2B2 engine which is fitted in ALH Mk II and MK I versions. Shakti engine is upgraded with Dual centrifugal compressor assembly, Single crystal blades and Dual channel FADEC.

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. 16 aircraft are under procurement and the aircraft are being delivered in a phased manner to the Indian Navy.

Length15.9 m
Width13.2 m
Height4.98 m
Max Take Off Weight5500 kg
Never Exceed Speed (VNE)292 Km/h
Range630 km
PAX12 + 2

ALH has Composite Hinge less Interchangeable Main Rotor Blades and composite Bearing less Tail Rotor Blades.

It is fitted with Composite Air Frame and Glass Cockpit along automatic flight control system (AFCS).  

Another important upgrade is Helmet Pointing System (HPS) whch is also known as Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS). The HPS adds to the display of helicopter’s flight and platform information, mission data, target information as well as additional enhanced application capabilities such as Low Visibility Landing and Take-Off, flight within Degraded Visibility Environment, optional Weapons Management and Synthetic Vision during day and night flying.

The ‘Heads Up - Eyes Out’ concept minimizes the need for ‘Heads Down’ in-cockpit instrumentation observation for critical information as altitude, velocity, engine performance, warning indications and allows the crew to concentrate on mission performance, thus increasing situational awareness and survivability in all naval missions.

ALH is loaded with Integrated Self Protection Suite (IDAS).  Self-protection suite provides warning and situational awareness to the crew in a hostile threat environment. The self-protection is immediate and automatic countermeasures dispensing. This is essential since survival depends on doctrine - tactics in combination with countermeasures. The IDAS system is installed on an aircraft in a way that allows the sensors to detect radar, missile and laser threats from any position relative to the aircraft. The system reacts either automatically, semi-automatically or in back-up/manual modes, depending on crew selection. 

Digital Moving Map- Digital Moving Map generates digital real-time moving map and gives the ability to pilot and co-pilot to perform the mission effectively. It can meet the requirements of different applications with the help of high processing power, high resolution map image and its storage capacity. It works with advanced cooling and thermal management techniques where pilot can operate in harsh environmental conditions for fixed and rotary wing aircrafts. 

More than 200 Dhruvs are operating with Indian Defence Forces.  HAL is executing an order for 159 Dhruv helicopters from Indian Army & IAF which is under supply.  Further, HAL bagged orders for 73 ALH in 2017 from Army, Coast Guard and Navy for ALH Mk-III & Mk-IV variants. Dhruv has also been supplied to Nepal Army & Mauritius Police, Maldives.  

Raksha Rajya Mantri Shripad Naik, Vice Adm R Hari Kumar, FOC-in-C Western Naval Command and officials from Indian Navy and HAL.