Aero India: Indian Army takes delivery of more powerful Dhruvs
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) officially handed over to the Indian Army Aviation Corps (AAC) the first Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) powered by Shakti engines at Aero India in Bangalore on 10 February.
At a handover ceremony, Maj Gen P. K. Bharali, the additional director general of army aviation, received the first five of the twin-engine craft.
The Dhruv Mk.III is different from its predecessors by being powered by the new Shakti turboshaft engine co-developed by Turbomeca and HAL.
However, this is not the only change in the ALH. Dr. Prasad Sampath, general manager of HAL’s Rotary Wing Research and Design Centre, traced the progression of the Dhruv: ‘The Mk.I, powered by Turbomeca TM 333 2B2 engines, featured a conventional cockpit and minimal vibration control, while the Mk.II that appeared in 2007 had a glass cockpit and first-generation active vibration control. The latest Mk.III features second-generation active vibration control, Shakti engines and additions to the cockpit displays.’
Shakti engines mate a HAL gearbox and 1,032kW Turbomeca engine. The latest Dhruv Mk.III can carry a 200kg payload at an altitude of 6,000m. This compares with a payload of just 50-100kg for the incumbent 825kW engine. A high-altitude capacity is a critical requirement for the Indian Army.
The same Shakti engine powers the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) that made its public flying debut at Aero India 2011.
The powerful Shakti engine will also be a boon for Dhruv Weapon System Integrated (WSI) variants that carry a 20mm cannon, rockets and Mistral missiles on external pylons.
A Turbomeca spokesman said that the engines for the first five Dhruv Mk.IIIs were built in France, but that future units would be assembled in India from kits.
Namwar Cheubey, HAL Engine Division’s chief supervisor (customer services), revealed that HAL has already received 65 kits from France, although components will increasingly be built in India. Turbomeca will produce the engine as the Ardiden 1H1.
A total of 159 helicopters will eventually be inducted into the Indian armed forces, with all future production craft featuring Shakti engines.
By Gordon Arthur, Bangalore
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