BANGALORE, India — The weaponized version of the Indian-made Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) will be inducted into the Indian Army beginning this week, an Army official said.
An active vibration control device and updated avionics have been added to the Mark-IV version of the ALH, which was cleared here Feb. 3 for initial operation, the official said. The earlier Mark-I and Mark-II had problems with excessive vibration, the Army official said.
Developed by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), the Mark-IV ALH, also called Rudra, has 350 hours of prototype test flying in various terrains and climates, including the deserts of Rajasthan and the mountains of Sikkim state, a HAL executive said.
Powered by the Shakti engine, jointly developed with French company Safran Turbomeca, the ALH Mark-IV can fly at altitudes above 20,000 feet. The Shakti engine will also power the Light Combat Helicopter being developed by HAL.
The weapons onboard the ALH include a 20mm gun supplied by France’s Nexter, air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles supplied by European company MBDA, and a Belgian-made 70mm rocket system.
The Indian Army has a requirement for 150 Mark-IV ALHs, and the program is worth $3 billion.
“The integration of multiple weapon systems simultaneously on the helicopter is a complex assignment,” said Soundara Rajan, managing director of HAL’s helicopter division. “In this particular case, it involved four major groups of systems and weapons, involving eight countries: Israel, France, Belgium, South Africa, Germany, Italy, USA and India. Nearly 23 kilometers of cables had to be laid, and hundreds of hours of flight and ground tests were carried out.”