A squadron of Mk-III Advanced Light Helicopters of the Indian Coast Guard has been commissioned in Chennai, which is expected to strengthen capabilities for security-sensitive waters off the Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh regions.
So far, the Coast Guard (CG) has 16 ALH Mk-IIIs procured from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), which are used for diverse roles including maritime surveillance, search and rescue and evacuation in Porbandar, Bhubaneshwar, Kochi and Chennai. . Since deployment, the squadron has flown more than 430 hours and conducted numerous operational missions, with four deployed in Chennai alone. The CG placed an order with HAL last month for the purchase of nine more ALH Mk-III helicopters.
840 Squadron was commissioned by Director General of Coast Guard VS Pathania at ICG Air Station, Chennai on Wednesday. The launch of the squadron marks a leap towards self-reliance in helicopter manufacturing and is in line with the government’s ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ vision, the defense ministry said on Thursday.
ALH Mk-III helicopters are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment including advanced radar and electro-optical sensors, Shakti engines, full glass cockpit, high intensity searchlight, advanced communication systems, automatic identification system and Homer search and rescue. This feature allows the helicopter to conduct maritime reconnaissance and search and rescue over longer distances while operating from a ship, both day and night.
The aircraft can switch roles from an offensive platform with a heavy machine gun to a benign platform carrying a medical intensive care unit to facilitate the transfer of critically ill patients. A total of 16 ALH Mk-III aircraft have been phased in to the Indian Coast Guard and four of these aircraft are stationed at Chennai. Since deployment, the squadron has logged more than 430 hours and conducted numerous operational missions.