Named Kestrels after birds of prey having good sensory capabilities, the INAS 324 operating the indigenously designed and built Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) MK III (MR) helicopters will boost maritime surveillance
India’s maritime preparedness received a boost on Monday as the Eastern Seaboard got its first naval air squadron.
The Indian Naval Air Squadron 324 —referred to as INAS 324 — operating the indigenously designed and built Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) MK III (MR) helicopters was commissioned into the Indian Navy in the presence of Vice Admiral Biswajit Dasgupta, AVSM, YSM, VSM Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command at a commissioning ceremony held at INS Dega, Visakhapatnam.
INAS 324 operating the indigenously designed & built Advanced Light Helicopter MK III helicopters was commissioned into the #IndianNavy in the presence of Vice Adm Biswajit Dasgupta, FOC-in-C #ENC at an impressive Commissioning Ceremony held at INS Dega, #Visakhapatnam today. pic.twitter.com/1cNOKWOlWB
— Defence PRO Visakhapatnam (@PRO_Vizag) July 4, 2022
The Eastern Naval Command is responsible for all operations in the Bay of Bengal and parts of the Indian Ocean.
Here’s what we know about Indian Naval Air Squadron 324 and how their commissioning will help the Indian Navy.
About INAS 324
INAS 324 has been named ‘Kestrels’, which are birds of prey and have good sensory capabilities symbolising the envisaged role of the aircraft and the air squadron.
The insignia of the squadron depicts a ‘kestrel’ searching over vast blue and white sea waves, signifying the integral Maritime Reconnaissance and Search and Rescue (SAR) role of the squadron.
The squadron is equipped with Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) MK III (MR) helicopters, manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
These ALH MK III helicopters have been fitted with state-of-the-art equipment; they come equipped with electro-optical sensors and modern surveillance radar.
These helicopters can be deployed for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations as well as special operations with Marine Commandos. The helicopter also has an airborne Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) for use in the air ambulance role to facilitate the medical evacuation of critically ill patients.
INAS 324 is commanded by Commander SS Dash, an accomplished and highly experienced ALH qualified flying instructor with extensive operational experience.
Boost to naval capabilities
Vice Admiral Biswajit Dasgupta said the commissioning of the first ALH MK III Squadron in the Eastern Naval Command will enhance the surveillance capability on the Eastern Seaboard.
The helicopters, indigenously manufactured by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), comes with Shakti engines, full glass cockpit, high-intensity searchlight, advanced communication systems, automatic identification system and a search-and-rescue homer.
These features enable them to undertake maritime reconnaissance as well as carry out search and rescue at extended ranges even while operating from ships, both during day and night.
Moreover, the aircraft also has the ability to switch roles from an offensive platform with a heavy machine gun to that of carrying a medical intensive care unit to facilitate transfer of critically ill patients.
This development comes at a time when India has a firm eye on China and also in tune with India’s ‘Act East’ policy.
The Navy has been bolstering force-levels on the eastern seaboard with new warships maritime patrol aircraft and spy drones.
The ongoing military confrontation with China in Ladakh has added a sense of urgency to the ongoing rebalance to the seaboard.
With inputs from agencies
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