HAL, Advanced Light Helicopter, Dhruv, DefExpo 2018
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL)'s Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv can work as a civil aircraft to carry passengers and also take combat role with missile launchers attachedAldo Bidini via Creative Commons

Indian Ministry of Defence is hosting the 10th DefExpo in Chennai (April 11-14). Unlike the previous editions, which had more participation from foreign players, this year state-run and domestic companies are set to get their due recognition.

The 2018-series DefExpo tag-line — India: The Emerging Defence Manufacturing Hub — says it all. The government wants to showcase its Public Sector Units (PSUs) like Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), as well as private domestic firms like the Kalyani Group and aero-components-makers Tata Advanced Systems Limited to the world and become a new export hub for military equipment.

Among them, HAL will be vying for attention with its Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv, which can perform multiple functionalities — both civil and combat — depending on the requirements. With such capabilities, the Dhruv has the biggest potential to attract foreign buyers.

DefExpo 2018, Advanced Towed Artillery Gun, ATAG, DRDO,
DRDO, HAL and other PSUs to showcase 'Made-in-India' military equipment and aircraft at DefExpo 2018DefExpo India official page (screen-grab)

The Dhruv comes with composite hinge-less interchangeable main rotor blades, composite bearingless tail rotor blades, a composite airframe, a glass cockpit with an Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS), a Chaff & Flare dispenser (for heat-seeking missile distraction routines), an Integrated Self Protection Suite, a health and usage monitoring system, a Helmet Pointing System (HPS), a digital video recording system, an InfraRed (IR) suppressor, and an onboard Inert Gas Generation System. Depending on the utility, it can be fitted with guns and rockets as well.

Here are key facts about HAL's ALH Dhruv:

  • Though it is developed and manufactured by HAL, it was designed with the assistance of German aerospace company Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB).
  • The Dhruv comes in four variants — ALH Mk I, ALH Mk II, ALH Mk III and ALH Mk IV — and is serviced in different roles and capacities.
  • The Dhruv civil variant is used to carry Very Important Persons (VIPs). Some private companies, too, have purchased them to carry passengers for short-range trips — mostly in tourist locations, cities, and sea harbor ports — for quick access to airports.
  • Dhruv variants have also been used for providing logistical air support, causality evacuation, and search and rescue.
  • On military missions, the Dhruv is used for carrying underslung loads (ammunitions or equipment) for the army in war, rapid deployment of forces and also for Air Force training.
  • For on-air combat purposes, the Dhruv (ALH Mk IV) can be fitted with 20mm Turret guns, 70mm rockets, and air-to-air missiles
  • Thanks to its multi-role capability, the Dhruv is in service with all three defense forces — Indian Army, Indian Air force and Indian Navy.
  • Four ALH Dhruv choppers are also being used by Indian Air Force's 32-airman Sarang aerobatic squad, which is touted to be among the world's top three helicopter daredevil teams.
  • As of now, more than 200 Dhruvs are operating with the Indian Defence Forces. HAL is in the process of delivering 159 Dhruv helicopters to Indian Army & IAF. HAL also received orders in 2017 from the Army, Coast Guard, and Navy for 73 ALH Mk-III & Mk-IV variants.
  • HAL has already supplied different Dhruv variants to the Nepal Army, Mauritius Police, and the Maldives.
  • HAL's civil customers of Dhruv include Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Ltd (ONGC), Geological Survey of India (GSI), the government of Jharkhand and paramilitary force (like BSF).
HAL Dhruv
HAL is in the process of delivering 159 Dhruv helicopters from Indian Army & IAFReuters

HAL ALH Dhruv variants and their roles:

Variants Main components Role
  • TM-333-2B2 engine with 801 kW power, having fuel consumption rate of 0.323 kg/kW hour
  • Conventional cockpit
Civil and non-military utility
  • TM-333-2B2 engine with 801 kW power, having fuel consumption rate of 0.323 kg/kW hour
  • Integrated Architecture Display system (Glass cockpit)
Civil and non-military utility
  • Shakti engine with 1032kW power having fuel consumption rate of 0.300 kg/kW hour
  • IADS with Digital Moving Map
  • Electronic Warfare Suite
  • Electro-Optical pod
  • Counter Measure Dispensing system
  • Infra-Red Suppressor
  • Health & Usage Monitoring system
  • Solid State Digital Video Recorder (SSDVR)
  • Engine Particle Separator
Utility roles of Defence Services suited for high altitude operations
ALH Mk. IV ALH Mk.III with weapon systems
and mission sensors like
  • Turret Gun
  • Rocket
  • Air-to-Air Missile
  • Air-to-Ground Missile
  • Helmet Pointing System
  • Data Link
  • Infra-Red Jammer
  • Obstacle Avoidance System
Armed variant for Attack, Close Air Support, and High altitude operations.

Key technical parameters of Dhruv military variants:

Length 15.9 m 15.9 m
Width 13.2 m 13.2 m
Height 4.98 m 4.98 m
Max Take Off Weight 5500 kg 5800 kg
Never Exceed Speed (VNE) 292 Km/h 245 Km/h
Range 630 km 590 km
Endurance 3.65hr 3.8 hr
PAX (maximum people/crew) 12+2 Not revealed

Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas,  Light Combat Helicopters (LCH), nuclear-capable missiles such as Dhanush, Akash, Indo-Russian BrahMos, the 155mm-class howitzer Advanced Towed Artillery Gun (ATAG) from DRDO and Kalyani Group and more are confirmed to be showcased at DefExpo 2018.

In the run-up to the next month's DefExpo 2018, we will be pushing a series of reports on individual military equipment and aircraft with their features.

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