Indian Coast Guard commissions Made in India ALH Dhruv Mark III Helicopters

The Indian Coast Guard had commissioned a squadron (its third) of made-in-India Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv Mark III at Porbandar in Gujarat. The helicopters were commissioned by ICG director-general VS Pathania.

Coast Guard officials told ANI the choppers could fulfil both reconnaissance and offensive roles as they have 12.7 mm heavy machine guns that can hit targets at a range of 1,800 metres.

The induction boosts the Coast Guard’s maritime surveillance and recon capabilities and the country’s ‘aatmanirbhar defence’ philosophy as the ALH Dhruv Mark III is fully made in India by Bengaluru-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

In May the Coast Guard commissioned its second ALH Dhruv Mark III squadron – in Kerala. Four of these helicopters have been stationed in Kochi in the southern state. The coasts of Karnataka and Kerala, and the Lakshadweep islands, would now be covered.

According to a note on HAL’s website, the ALH Dhruv is an ‘indigenously designed and developed… twin-engine, multi-role, multi-mission new generation helicopter’.

The Mark III designed for ‘utility roles in defence services suited for high-altitude operations’ comes with an electronic warfare suite and counter-measure system, among other features.

The ‘armed variant for the attack, close-air support and high altitude operations’ comes with weapon systems and mission sensors that include a turret gun, air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, a helmet-pointing system, and an infra-red jammer, a data link and an obstacle avoidance system.

The helicopters also have powerful Shakti engines, a full-glass cockpit and high-intensity searchlights to aid in search-and-rescue ops at sea, as well as a removable medical intensive care unit (MICU) to facilitate critically ill patients for medical evacuation, or med-evac.

An improved version equipped with Shakti-1H engines, new electronic warfare (EW) suite and warning systems, automatic chaff and flare dispensers, and an improved vibration control system. The first batch was inducted into service in 2012.

The helicopters also have powerful Shakti engines, a full-glass cockpit and high-intensity searchlights to aid in search-and-rescue ops at sea. (Image Courtesy – Shrey Chopra)

Indian Coast Guard Mk3 is the same in performance as the Mk.3 however, has additional equipment such as a cabin mountain MG, High-Intensity Search Light and a loud hailer.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh this week underlined the success of the armed forces’ ‘aatmanirbhar’ push last week when he tweeted: “68% of procurement will be from purchase of products made in India. In this also, we have arranged to buy 25% only from private companies…”

The HAL Dhruv is a utility helicopter designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The development of HAL Dhruv was announced in November 1984. The helicopter first flew in 1992; however, its development was prolonged due to multiple factors including the Indian Army’s requirement for design changes, budget restrictions, and sanctions placed on India following the 1998 Pokhran-II nuclear tests.

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