The Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) 323 — Harriers, the first unit of HAL-built Advanced Light Helicopter Mark-III, was commissioned into Indian Navy by the Hon’ble Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik on Monday at INS Hansa, Goa. According to the MoD statement, Vice Admiral R Hari Kumar and Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western Naval Command also attended the ‘INAS 323’ commissioning ceremony.
“The commissioning of INAS 323 marked yet another milestone in the efforts towards enhancing maritime security and safeguarding maritime interests of the nation, as also embodying the spirit of ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat,” said the MoS while addressing the gathering at the Indian Naval Air Station at Dabolim.
For now, the Navy’s “Harriers” will start naval operations with three state-of-the-art ALH Mk-III choppers, which have 19 new systems added to the Dhruv MK-III aircraft based on the requirements of the Navy and the Coast Guard. In March 2017, the Indian Navy signed a contract with HAL to deliver 16 modified Advanced Light helicopters fitted with new-generation avionics and mission gear to supplement its decade’s old Chetaks (Alouette III) fleet. Powered by two powerful Shakti engines and equipped with a state-of-the-art glass cockpit, the homegrown multi-mission helicopter will be deployed for a wide range of maritime tasks including search and rescue, coastal surveillance and Special Operations. All sixteen ALH Mk-IIIs will be delivered to the Navy by mid-2022. The aircraft, a step up from Mk 1, will be able to mitigate low visibility during search and rescue operations even at night, naval officers said on Monday.
The latest ALH Mk-III of Indian Navy will come fitted with 19 major upgrades comprising 12.7mm machine gun system, SAR Homer system, V/UHF communication system, Traffic Alert and collision avoidance (TCAS-I), Loud Hailer, Automatic Deployable Emergency Locator Transmitter, Rescue Basket, Medical Intensive Care Unit, Digital Video Recording System, Automatic Identification System (AIS), High-Intensity SearchLight, Pressure Refueling System, Electro-Optical Pod Rev-III, Elta’s maritime surveillance radar and Identification Friend and Foe MkXII.
The newly commissioned ‘Harriers’ will be commanded by Cdr Samik Nundy, an accomplished and experienced ALH pilot with extensive operational experience.