The first batch of the “made in India” Mark-III variant “Dhruv” Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) customized for coastal security is slated for delivery to Indian Navy (IN) and Indian Coast Guard (ICG) shortly. This is a landmark event for both sides, being the first bulk order of the Dhruv Mk-III placed on state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) by the two services.
While the Indian Army and Air Force have inducted later versions of ALH (Mk-III utility, and weaponized Mk-IV “Rudra”) in large numbers, the IN and ICG have thus far operated only older Mk-I variant with conventional cockpit and Turbomeca (now Safran Helicopter Engines) TM 333 2B2 turboshaft engines.
The customized Mk-III under delivery features a full glass cockpit with HAL’s Integrated Architecture Display System (IADS), more powerful “Shakti” (Safran Ardiden 1H1) engines, and a host of new systems integrated by HAL’s Rotary Wing Research and Design Centre (RWRDC). Two “green” helicopters were handed over to RWRDC by HAL’s Helicopter Division in June 2018 for system integration. The work was completed briskly by HAL in under two years before Covid-19 lockdowns put the brakes on field trials.
After the lockdown restrictions were gradually lifted by Indian government in May 2020, sensor integration and sea trials resumed at Kochi, Chennai and Goa on the first of ICG and IN airframes. As of November, two helicopters churn the air above Bengaluru almost daily for customer training.
Acceptance flights by HAL test crew were in progress when this author visited, with the first lot expected to be formally “signaled out” for customer acceptance sorties at the end of November.
Source: Vertical Mag