Indian Navy inducts second squadron equipped with ALH Mk III helos

By Janes

The Indian Navy (IN) commissioned a second naval air squadron equipped with the indigenously designed and built Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Mk III in a ceremony held on 7 June at Naval Air Station INS Dega in Visakhapatnam on India’s eastern coast.

Named ‘Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) 322 Dega Flight’, the unit, which will operate under the Eastern Naval Command (ENC), will for now field the three helicopters handed over by the state-owned manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

Among other tasks, the helicopters will be mainly used for maritime reconnaissance, coastal surveillance, and search-and-rescue operations, according to the Indian government’s Press Information Bureau (PIB).

The twin-engined rotorcraft are part of an order for 16 units placed by the service in 2017. Another 16 ALHs were ordered at the time for the Indian Coast Guard (ICG). The first three ALH Mk IIIs delivered to the IN are in service with the ‘INAS 323′ squadron at INS Hansa in Goa – the first such squadron to operate these helicopters.

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

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