The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) inducted the first batch of 16 marine version of indigenously-built Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) Mk-III that will enhance its capabilities towards search and rescue operations besides enhancing coastal security.
The state-of-the-art helicopters are indigenously designed and manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) that will supply 16 of these helicopters to the Coast Guard by mid-2022, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar said the induction of these helicopters is in line with Atmanirbhar Bharat vision push. He also brought out the importance of having these advanced helicopters for ICG to operate them across the spectrum of Coast Guard operations. The ceremony was carried out in Bengaluru through digital means from New Delhi, due to COVID-19 on 12 June.
The ALH Mk-III marine version has been designed and developed with the in-house customisation of 19 additional equipment by HAL to meet ICG requirements. The HAL will supply 16 ALH Mk-III to the ICG by mid next year. “The helicopters are capable of undertaking embarked operations from ships which will enhance Coast Guard capabilities for sea-air coordinated search, interdiction capabilities, coastal security, search and rescue operations, medical evacuation, humanitarian missions, pollution response missions, etc.,” the MoD statement stated.
Induction of all the 16 ALH Mk-III will be positioned at four Coast Guard squadrons at Bhubaneshwar, Porbandar, Kochi and Chennai. The shared maritime boundaries with littoral states are highly susceptible to illegal activities and the regions are prone to frequent cyclones. These squadrons with embarked operations will ensure seamless surveillance and assist fishermen in distress at sea.
Director General Coast Guard K Natarajan said induction of ALH Mk-III will usher a new paradigm shift in its capability to undertake shipborne operations and enhance surveillance prowess with extended reach. He also brought out that these helicopters will be deployed in a coordinated matrix along with ships and aircraft to strengthen the service capabilities in the area of responsibility and beyond.