The Indian Air Force (IAF), impressed with the performance of the armed variant of the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), plans to purchase additional of the copters for high-altitude missions in the Himalayas and the desert area on the western front.
The ALH Mark-IV version of the helicopter, dubbed ‘Rudra’ by the military, was employed in Eastern Ladakh during the standoff with China. The IAF currently has one squadron of 14 to 16 helicopters and plans to add at least three more. The ‘Rudra’ is also used by the army.
“More Rudra are being purchased,” a senior official told The Tribune, “and a case is being moved to the Ministry of Defence.”
The copter performed “exceptionally well” in the sub-sector north (SSN) — the military term for Northern Ladakh’s high-altitude plateau and sensitive Depsang plateau. The helipads in these sites are over 15,000 feet above sea level.
The copters, which are made by the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), are designed for high altitudes and are powered by’shakti engines’ that can take them up to 20,000 feet. A cooperative venture between Safran of France and HAL designed and manufactured the engine.
The ALH Mk-IV is equipped with a 20 mm turret cannon, 70 mm rocket pods, and an air-to-air missile. The Helina anti-tank missile is scheduled to be installed on the helicopter.
The helicopter can be employed for anti-tank warfare and ground troop close air support. The helicopter’s maximum take-off weight is 5,500 kg, and it can carry a payload of 2,600 kg. For pilots, the helicopter incorporates multifunctional displays as well as an autonomous flight control system.
‘Rudra’ can go up to 20,000 feet in the air.
- Advanced Light Helicopter is produced by state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)
- It is called the ALH Mark-IV version and is known by its military name ‘Rudra’
- The copters are adapted for high altitudes and powered by ‘shakti engines’ that can take it to 20,000 ft
- The engine is designed and made under a joint venture between Safran and HAL
HAL had previously announced that the Indian Navy would purchase 60 sophisticated light helicopters. According to defence sources, the Navy issued wide requirements to HAL in January for the acquisition of 60 utility helicopters based on the ALH for maritime operations, based on the recommendations of a joint study with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in October.