Impressed with the performance of the armed version of the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), the Indian Air Force (IAF) is planning to buy more such copters for high-altitude operations in the Himalayas and the desert sector on the western front.
The copter, which is called the ALH Mark-IV version and is known by its military name ‘Rudra’, was used in Eastern Ladakh during the stand-off with China. The IAF has one squadron of 14 to 16 copters and is looking to get at least three more squadrons. The Army also operates the ‘Rudra’.
A senior functionary told The Tribune that “more Rudra are being purchased and a case is being moved to the Ministry of Defence”. The copter did “very well” in the sub-sector north (SSN) — the military name for high-altitude plateau and sensitive Depsang plateau in Northern Ladakh, the functionary added.
Helipads in these locations are at an altitude of more than 15,000 ft.
Produced by state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), 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 of France and the HAL.