NEW DELHI: Indian state owned defense firm Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has bagged an order to supply 40 multi-role advanced light helicopters to the Indian Army and one to the Indian Navy. According to the $952 million contract, HAL would deliver the helicopters in a phased manner over the next five years.
"The latest order reflects the trust on HAL's capabilities and gives an impetus to make-in-India campaign. It reposes faith of Indian Defense forces in indigenous ALH which has been serving them with distinction for a long time", says Mr. T. Suvarna Raju, CMD-HAL.
HAL's LCH ‘Dhruv' is a twin engine, multi-role, multi-mission helicopter in the 5.5-ton weight class. Since 2002, HAL has produced over 117 ALH, with the Indian Army alone operating around 100 of them. The combat version of Dhruv is equipped with 20 mm turret gun and can carry 70 mm rockets, Mistral air-to-air missile, air-to-ground missile, helmet pointing system and anti-tank missiles. According to defense sources, the forty ALH are mainly meant for the mountain strike corps that the Indian Army has been building to strengthen its combat capability in the eastern frontier. Sputnik had earlier reported that the Indian Army was in the process of establishing a dedicated attack helicopter fleet integrated with its strike corps.
According to the plan, initially, a squadron of 10 Dhruv Mk-IVs will be deployed in the north-eastern part of Assam, which will happen near simultaneously with the building of additional air-bases which are going to be operational in the coming months along the eastern border. The Army has also placed an order for six units of the US-made Apache AH-64 E heavy attack helicopters to be deployed at the eastern border. Apart from that, 114 HAL light combat helicopters, ordered earlier, will also be part of the strike corps.
India currently has three strike corps, all equipped and tasked with offensive capability against Pakistan, but none against China.