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Aero India 2021: HAL delivers five Mk III Advanced Light Helicopters to IN and ICG

The Indian Navy (IN) has received three and the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) two Dhruv Mk III Advanced Light Helicopters (ALHs) from state-owned company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as part of an INR105.52 billion (USD1.41 billion) order for 32 such rotorcraft (16 for each service) placed in 2017.

The indigenously designed, twin-engined helicopters were handed over on 5 February – the last day of the Aero India 2021 defence exhibition in Bangalore – for deployment on coastal surveillance, armed patrol, and search-and-rescue operations, among other tasks.

The 5.5-tonne Mk IIIs will supplement, and eventually replace, the IN’s and ICG’s depleting fleets of licence-built Chetak (Aérospatiale Alouette III) light utility helicopters that entered service from 1969 and are reaching the end of their total technical life.

In a 5 February statement HAL said that the remaining helicopters under the contract were in “various stages of production and flight tests” and are slated for delivery within the agreed schedules (by late 2021).

Powered by two Shakti engines developed jointly by HAL and France’s Turbomeca (now Safran Helicopter Engines), the ALH Mk III features 19 major improvements over the Mk I and Mk II variants, including an all-glass cockpit, an integrated architecture display, as well as automatic flight control and countermeasures dispensing systems.

Industry sources told Janes that the Mk III has also been fitted with a nose-mounted surveillance radar with 270° coverage capable of detecting, classifying, and tracking maritime targets; a multispectral electro-optical pod for reconnaissance and target acquisition, as well as advanced transmitters, recording, anti-collision, and communication systems.

Moreover, six of the IN’s Mk IIIs will be equipped with an indigenously developed low-frequency dunking sonar.

Meanwhile, industry sources told Janes

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