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New Delhi, April 16 (H.S.). The Indian Navy will procure 60 Advanced Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) and 51 Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) to enhance maritime and coastal security. The Navy wants to strengthen its fleet of maritime helicopters to strengthen the air fleet on its ships. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is preparing a detailed project report on the configuration and total cost of the helicopters for the requirements of the Navy.

According to defense sources, the Navy has been looking to procure new utility helicopters for more than a decade, but the efforts did not go ahead. The Indian Navy has long needed 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH) for ship based operations. For this, the tender process was also started under the strategic partnership, which has also been included in the third positive indigenization list by the Ministry of Defense (MoD) last week. Based on suggestions from a joint study with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in October last year, the Navy issued its comprehensive requirements to HAL in January for acquisition of 60 helicopters for maritime operations.

Based on these requirements of the Navy, HAL is preparing a detailed project report covering the overall cost including helicopter configuration and performance based logistics, which will soon be placed before the Defense Ministry. The Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) in November 2018 had given approval of requirement (AON) for procurement of 111 NUHs under the SP model. This was the first deal under the ambitious model to boost the domestic private sector participating in defense manufacturing. This was followed by a request for Expression of Interest (REOI) to Original Equipment Manufacturers and Strategic Partners in February 2019.

Officials said that the process was put on hold at that time because HAL had proposed a wheeled landing gear version of the Advanced Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH). The folding rotors of Naval Utility Helicopters had to be made fit to fit into the ship’s hangar. In October 2021, the Navy and HAL conducted a joint study to harness the ALH’s maximum carrying capacity of up to 5.7 tonnes, with lighter weight avionics and mission sensors, reducing weight from higher payloads. Further suggestions were made to meet the requirement for deck operations with a capacity of up to 600 kg, foldable two segment blades, modified control systems and aircraft ship integrated secure and traverse traversing interface for ship deck.

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