The Indian Navy has commissioned the first squadron of Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL)-built Dhruv advanced light helicopter (ALH) during a ceremony held at Kochi, India.
The first Dhruv ALH squadron will be named Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) 322 and would function under administrative control of Southern Naval Command flag officer commanding-in-chief vice admiral Satish Soni.
The Dhruv (Pole Star) multirole and multimission helicopter has been designed for army, air force, navy, coastguard and civil operations, by day and night, for both utility and attack roles.
Western Naval Command Flag Officer commanding-in-chief, vice-admiral Shekhar Sinha said the Dhruv helicopter has transformed into an advanced search and rescue (SAR) helicopter for the Indian Navy, and also supports missions including heliborne operations and armed patrol with night vision devices.
Soni said that the versatile aircraft will soon be cleared for night search and rescue missions, while boosting coast security architecture.
Fitted with a countermeasures suite comprising radar and missile detectors, infrared jammer, chaff and flare dispensers, the Dhruv naval variant helcipoter can carry two torpedoes or four anti-ship missiles.
Capable of flying at a speed of 265km/h, the helicopter features an anti-resonance vibration isolation system, hingeless main rotor, bearingless tail rotor and four-axis automatic flight control system.
The Dhruv helicopter's additional features include a navigation suite comprising a global positioning system, a Doppler navigation system, distance measuring equipment, a true air speed indicator, automatic direction finder, a heading reference system, radio altimeter, VHF omnidirectional ranger and instrument landing system (VOR/ILS) and marker beacons.
The helicopter, with a range of 700km and endurance of four hours and 20 minutes, is integrated with stub wings to carry up to eight anti-armour missiles for the army and air force.
Image: The Indian Navy's first Dhruv ALH squadron. Photo: courtesy of Indian Navy.