HAL Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv

WolfPack86

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HAL rolls out 300th ALH; floor run of LCH performed too
Defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) on Tuesday mentioned that in one other main fillip to indigenous programme, the 300th Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH-Dhruv) rolled out from its hangar. R Madhavan, CMD, HAL mentioned: “The ALH never looked back from the day when the prototype took its maiden flight on August 30, 1992 and has evolved into a world class helicopter with its unparalleled performance.


The evolution from ALH Mark-I to Mark-IV has been phenomenal and is a boost to the indigenous design and development of helicopters.” GVS Bhaskar, CEO, HAL Helicopter Complex mentioned that the roll out was an affidavit to the capabilities HAL has constructed over time with concerted efforts of staff and buyer assist.


“With more ALH getting inducted into the services our focus on customer support is ever increasing. With over 2.8 lakh flying hours ALH has proven to be a multirole helicopter for any mission, any place, any time”, he mentioned.


At current, HAL is producing 73 ALHs contracted for Army (41), Indian Navy (16) and Indian Coast Guard (16). Out of this, 38 ALHs have already been produced and the remaining can be accomplished by 2022. LCH Ground run Further, the PSU mentioned that it additionally performed the ‘ground run’ of the primary Limited Series Production (LSP) of Light Combat Helicopter-Limited Series Production (LCH-LSP).


This challenge has been taken up by the corporate proactively whereas the order from providers on HAL is in course of. The LCH was piloted by Gp Capt (retd) Hari Krishnan Nair S, chief check pilot and Gp Capt (Retd) CG Narasimha Prasad, senior flight check engineer of flight operations, HAL Rotary Wing.
 

WolfPack86

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For Navy Helicopters, ‘Make In HAL’, Why Look To Foreign Companies?
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) started the design and development of the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) in 1984. The ALH was developed for both Airforce/Army versions and separately for the Indian Navy

by M Vijaya Kumar & V Sadagopan (former HAL Employees)

The Navy had taken a keen interest in the development of the ALH from the beginning and HAL delivered a small number of ALH Mark-I helicopters to it in 2002-03. These were fitted with an autopilot which had all Navy-specific modes. However, HAL could not meet two requirements of the Navy at that time – long-duration hover and blade folding dimensions.

In 2014-15, HAL’s Helicopter Complex proposed to the Navy a version which had a two-segment blade and other modifications to meet its blade-folding requirements. The Navy seemed happy and displayed keen interest, but a firm decision was not made. In the event, HAL, on its own, launched two projects in 2019 with internal funding: (a) ALH Tail boom folding; (b) ALH blade-folding with two-segment main rotor blades.

The Navy’s INAS 322 squadron (Guardians), commissioned in 2013, operates ALH Mark-I from INS Garuda in Kochi. According to an Indian Navy official in 2018: “From a flying machine with many issues, she (ALH) has matured by miles…From the role of helicopter training of our pilots, the ALH has definitely progressed in the last five years.” He further went on to say, “Night flying over sea is considered the Holy Grail of helicopter flying over the sea as it is often fraught with risks and one that requires exceptional skills and courage. Today, India is among the few nations around the world having the ability to undertake SAR (search and rescue) by night.”

The Navy has cleared the Guardians for undertaking night SAR missions. Further, ALH was deployed on a overseas embarkation operation at Abu Dhabi in 2017.

The ALH Mark-III is an improved version in terms of reduced vibration levels using Active Vibration Control System, the fitment of a more powerful Shakthi engine, glass cockpit, etc. The Navy contracted with HAL for additional ALH Mark-III helicopters in 2017. As of now, about 270 ALH of different variants are flying in the field and the ALH fleet has accumulated over 280,000 flight hours.

Navy Requirement of NUH

The Indian Navy in 2017 issued request for information (RFI) to buy 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH) under the Strategic Partnership (SP) model. Under this model, an Indian private company is to tie up with a foreign strategic partner (for technology and manufacturing capability) and bid for the contract. But HAL could easily offer a re-configured version of ALH Mark-III, by removing some systems from it and adding a few other systems to satisfy the requirements. The dimensional requirements will be met through the two projects that HAL launched in 2019. It is known that an ASW helicopter will be of 10-12 tonne class and the ALH class of helicopters cannot carry out long-duration hover.

With an ALH variant, Navy will have additional advantages such as (a) low initial cost to Navy in terms of common tooling, testers, etc; (b) commonality with the existing fleet of ALH Mark-I and III; (c) easy obsolescence management; (d) no Transfer of Technology cost; and (e) No licence fee.

HAL has been spearheading the design, development and manufacture of rotary wing platforms to meet the military’s requirements. There are just about half a dozen countries in the world that can design and develop helicopters, and their governments nurture continuous development to make improvements to existing equipment and to keep ahead of other countries.

HAL has been very successful in the design, development, testing and certification of helicopters, notwithstanding deliberate commentary in news media and social media to denigrate it. It should not be forgotten that HAL designed/produced the Cheetah, Chetak, Cheetal, ALH Dhruv, ALH Rudra (ALH Mark-IV weaponised version) that are rendering commendable service to our warriors on the Himalayan borders now. The LCH and LUH are set to join them.

The ‘Strategic Partnership’ route is good for encouraging private sector defence production. But the question is, is it the best option when an indigenous option is already available to fit the NUH procurement? It is in the interest of both the Navy and HAL to join hands and make variants of the Navy’s choice (for NUH and future helicopter requirements). This is the right occasion to contribute towards “Atmanirbhar Bharat” in defence design and production.
 

WolfPack86

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Exclusive preview: The Indian Navy and Coast Guard’s ALH ‘Dhruv’ Mk-III helicopters
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.


The contract for 32 coastal security ALH was inked in March 2017 with ICG as the lead service. The IN order for 16 — to supplement its ageing and depleting fleet of Alouettes (Chetaks) — was dovetailed into this program based on the overarching responsibility for coastal security placed on it by the government of India in the wake of 26/11 (2008) terrorist attacks on Mumbai.

These helicopters (yet to be christened with a unique Indian name) come with latest-generation avionics and role equipment. The helicopters are primarily meant for use in a shore-based role. However, HAL is confident that the rotors will be ready to embark ships should the need arise.


The ICG contract, for instance, directs HAL to test and provide an afloat envelope (SHOLs) for the Mk-III. It also includes a performance-based logistics (PBL) clause — making this the first time a customized variant with tough PBL clause is being offered by HAL to a sea-going customer. (The IN contract does not have PBL built-in, possibly to keep within budget constraints while letting ICG test the waters.)

The selection of systems and customization was done primarily in consultation with ICG. For its coastal security role, the aircraft has a nose-mounted surveillance radar with 270-degree coverage that can detect, classify and track multiple marine targets; it has synthetic-aperture radar, inverse synthetic-aperture radar, and moving target indication classification functions, including weather mode. There is also a multi-spectral electro-optic (EO) pod for reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition and range finding with stowable control grip on copilot side.


Other features include a removable medical intensive care unit for the air ambulance role; high-intensity searchlight, loudhailer, 12.7-mm cabin-mounted machine gun (with provisions on the left side), traffic alert and collision avoidance system, V/UHF communication system with data modem, IFF Mk-XII with Mode S transponder, automatic identification system, automatic deployable emergency location transmitter, solid state digital video recorder, pressure refueling system, 360-degree search-and-rescue homer with coverage from 110-410 MHz, electrical rescue winch with rescue basket for double-lift (250 kilograms/550 pounds), control grip (winchman mini-stick) in cabin for air-sea rescue, and upgraded IADS and automatic flight control system software.


Such an array of systems was hitherto seen only on heavier, multi-role helicopters of the Indian Navy. For instance, no light helicopter in the IN’s inventory ever featured a glass cockpit, surveillance radar or EO pod. The helicopter bears a “fully loaded” look. The maximum certificated all-up weight has been revised to 5,750 kg (12,675 lb.) from the earlier Mk-I variant of IN and ICG that weighed in at 5,500 kg (12,125 lb.).

Folded dimensions, a cumbersome blade-folding procedure, performance and maintainability issues plagued afloat exploitation of the eight limited-series production ALH Mk-I in naval inventory since their induction in 2003. The ICG holds four ALH Mk-I in its inventory, again with no integral ship flight.


Six of the 16 naval Mk-III ALH are to be equipped with an indigenous low frequency dunking sonar (LFDS) developed by Kochi-based Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory. The sonar’s units are being produced by state-owned Bharat Electronics Limited with a host of sub-vendors downstream. Earlier this decade, the navy had offered a Mk-I naval ALH as test bed for developmental trials of the LFDS (this author was fortunate to participate in ground and flight trials of the LFDS).


Sources indicate that the IN views the coastal security ALH and Naval Utility Helicopter (NUH) programs differently. Seamless deck interface and a seagoing, light multi-role helicopter under 4.5 tonnes drives the navy’s flagship NUH program, sought to be delivered through a strategic partnership between an Indian OEM and foreign partner under the “Make in India” initiative.


HAL hopes to deliver five coastal security ALH Dhruv Mk-III helicopters by the end of November 2020, another nine by March 2021, and the balance 18 helicopters by September 2021 — a tough task given HAL’s order book and the changed situation post-Covid.
 

WolfPack86

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New Variant of ‘Dhruv’ MK-III Helicopter For Indian Navy And Coast Guard Slated For Delivery Shortly
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 “signalled out” for customer acceptance sorties at the end of November.

The contract for 32 coastal security ALH was inked in March 2017 with ICG as the lead service. The IN order for 16 — to supplement its ageing and depleting fleet of Alouettes (Chetaks) — was dovetailed into this program based on the overarching responsibility for coastal security placed on it by the government of India in the wake of 26/11 (2008) terrorist attacks on Mumbai.

These helicopters (yet to be christened with a unique Indian name) come with latest-generation avionics and role equipment. The helicopters are primarily meant for use in a shore-based role. However, HAL is confident that the rotors will be ready to embark ships should the need arise.

The ICG contract, for instance, directs HAL to test and provide an afloat envelope (SHOLs) for the MK-III. It also includes a performance-based logistics (PBL) clause — making this the first time a customized variant with tough PBL clause is being offered by HAL to a sea-going customer. (The IN contract does not have PBL built-in, possibly to keep within budget constraints while letting ICG test the waters)

HAL hopes to deliver five coastal security MK-III Dhruv helicopters by the end of November 2020, another nine by March 2021, and the remaining 18 by September 2021. KP Sanjeev Kumar Photo

The selection of systems and customization was done primarily in consultation with ICG. For its coastal security role, the aircraft has a nose-mounted surveillance radar with 270-degree coverage that can detect, classify and track multiple marine targets; it has synthetic-aperture radar, inverse synthetic-aperture radar, and moving target indication classification functions, including weather mode. There is also a multi-spectral electro-optic (EO) pod for reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition and range finding with stowable control grip on co-pilot side.

Other features include a removable medical intensive care unit for the air ambulance role; high-intensity searchlight, loudhailer, 12.7-mm cabin-mounted machine gun (with provisions on the left side), traffic alert and collision avoidance system, V/UHF communication system with data modem, IFF MK-XII with Mode S transponder, automatic identification system, automatic deployable emergency location transmitter, solid state digital video recorder, pressure refuelling system, 360-degree search-and-rescue homer with coverage from 110-410 MHz, electrical rescue winch with rescue basket for double-lift (250 kilograms/550 pounds), control grip (winchman mini-stick) in cabin for air-sea rescue, and upgraded IADS and automatic flight control system software.

Such an array of systems was hitherto seen only on heavier, multi-role helicopters of the Indian Navy. For instance, no light helicopter in the IN’s inventory ever featured a glass cockpit, surveillance radar or EO pod. The helicopter bears a “fully loaded” look. The maximum certificated all-up weight has been revised to 5,750 kg (12,675 lb.) from the earlier MK-I variant of IN and ICG that weighed in at 5,500 kg (12,125 lb.).

Folded dimensions, a cumbersome blade-folding procedure, performance and maintainability issues plagued afloat exploitation of the eight limited-series production ALH MK-I in naval inventory since their induction in 2003. The ICG holds four ALH MK-I in its inventory, again with no integral ship flight.

Six of the 16 naval MK-III ALH are to be equipped with an indigenous low frequency dunking sonar (LFDS) developed by Kochi-based Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory. The sonar’s units are being produced by state-owned Bharat Electronics Limited with a host of sub-vendors downstream. Earlier this decade, the navy had offered a MK-I naval ALH as test bed for developmental trials of the LFDS (this author was fortunate to participate in ground and flight trials of the LFDS).

Sources indicate that the IN views the coastal security ALH and Naval Utility Helicopter (NUH) programs differently. Seamless deck interface and a seagoing, light multi-role helicopter under 4.5 tonnes drives the navy’s flagship NUH program, sought to be delivered through a strategic partnership between an Indian OEM and foreign partner under the “Make in India” initiative.

HAL hopes to deliver five coastal security ALH Dhruv MK-III helicopters by the end of November 2020, another nine by March 2021, and the balance 18 helicopters by September 2021 — a tough task given HAL’s order book and the changed situation post-Covid.
 

abingdonboy

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And that is a slam dunk. IN asked for a stowed length of 13.5m, HAL has now demonstrated a ALH with a stowed length of 13.5m


So as I see it there are TWO options that HAL has put on the table for the IN to select from (or 2 options they are exploring in parallel and internally they will come up with the best option and apply it to their diet NUH-compliant ALH variant)

1) 2-segment 4 (technically 3) blade folding with a FIXED tail boom

*OR*

2) a folding tail boom with 2 blades (the ones in the 9 and 3 o’clock positions) folding to the rear with the 12 o’clock blade fixed forward

It’s not clear to me if HAL is looking at combining these two options or if it is even necessary


After the China virus and the associated costs are added up there’s not a chance in this world that these utterly absurd boondoggles will be entertained anymore.


Either Navy HQ gets over their decades old grudge with HAL or they continue to fly the, now 60 year old design, Chetak from their frontline $1bn USD destroyers and frigates.


big picturethis order will extend @HALHQBLR ALH production run by at least another half decade. As it stands HAL has an outstanding commitment of ~40 ALH/Rudra so without fresh orders ALH production run is ending in 2022

Height of absurdity to then select foreign NUH

I’m not kidding when I say that any Indian navy officer or MOD babu that signs off on the Panther (or any other foreign NUH) over the ALH-NUH should be charged with treason
 

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Naval Helicopters: Critical trials ahead for indigenous ALH

With a plan to manufacture naval utility helicopters under a strategic partnership model in the doldrums, all eyes are on a critical trial of an indigenous Advanced Light Helicopter being modified for ship-borne operations of the Navy.

A crucial trial of the folding tail boom – the aft section of the chopper – is planned by next month to demonstrate that the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) can easily fit into hangars and heli-decks of frontline warships, people familiar with the development told ET. The first ALH with a modified tail section as per the navy’s specifications is ready and is expected to fly within a month as part of the developmental tests, they said.

 

WolfPack86

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NAVAL HELICOPTERS: CRITICAL TRIALS AHEAD FOR INDIGENOUS ADVANCED LIGHT HELICOPTER (ALH)
With a plan to manufacture naval utility helicopters under a strategic partnership model in the doldrums, all eyes are on a critical trial of an indigenous Advanced Light Helicopter being modified for ship-borne operations of the Navy.


A crucial trial of the folding tail boom – the aft section of the chopper – is planned by next month to demonstrate that the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) can easily fit into hangars and heli-decks of frontline warships, people familiar with the development told ET. The first ALH with a modified tail section as per the navy’s specifications is ready and is expected to fly within a month as part of the developmental tests, they said.

The trial is being conducted by state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd that manufactures the said ALH. The modification gains importance as the navy’s plan to acquire 111 new utility helicopters under the strategic partnership model reached a dead end with no progress being made in over a year. The plan has been stalled after concerns were raised on the non-inclusion of HAL in the competition that was restricted to Indian private sector players. As first reported by ET, the Navy has already floated a requirement for more than 20 utility helicopters to be taken on a lease basis to meet immediate requirements. This is a short-term plan till a suitable platform is ready.

The ALH – which is already in service with air force, army and navy – was being pitched as an option for the navy for ship-borne operations, but it lacks a folding tail and a fully retractable rotor blades that are crucial for such operations. Sources said the folding tail will soon be demonstrated and the next step of retractable rotor blades is also being worked on and is expected to be ready within two years. The design work for the folding rotor blades has been completed and specialised machinery has been ordered to commence the manufacturing, they said.

“The modified helicopter will meet the navy’s requirements for storage on board the warship,” one of the officials involved in the project told ET. “The new version of the ALH can also be fitted with any kinds of sensors or weapons required by the user. The coast guard has already received an ALH with a nose mounted surveillance radar,” the official said. As reported by ET, the navy has been facing an acute shortage of utility helicopters for ship-borne operations, with the legacy Chetak fleet well past its prime and facing major maintenance issues.

 

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