ALH Rudra ready to spit fire | HAL equates it with Black Hawk & Puma | Phase-1 IOC likely in May-By Anantha Krishnan M
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is all set to unleash Rudra, a beast of a machine from its hangars soon. Rudra (fierce form of Lord Shiva) is the Mk-IV weapon systems integrated (WSI) version of HAL’s star chopper Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and is expected to get the Phase-1 Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) this May. Painted in black, the Rudra is one hell of a machine -- fully-loaded and truly menacing. HAL says get on beyond the looks!
The IOC is split into two parts, with Phase-2 expected later, only to accommodate the users’ choice of an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM). The Defence Research Development Organisation too is tempting the user (Army & IAF) with a desi-ATGM (Helina, the air version of Nag also called as alternate ATGM).
“The weapon trials are on and we have completed the Missile, gun and rocket trials at Pokhran, Chandipur and Kalaikunda. We are conducting integrated weapon trails with all sensors coming into play,“ sources said. The Rudra is powered by Shakthi engine.
As per the initial orders, close to 70 Rudras are to be supplied to Indian armed forces. “It has comfortably-exceeded the payload and performance requirements at 6 km height.
It has integrated sensors, weapons and electronic warfare suite using an upgraded version of the glass cockpit used in the Mk-III. The cockpit avionics is a state-of-the-art technology when it comes to helicopters. The sensors include stabilised day and night cameras, Infra-Red imaging, as well as laser ranging and designation,” sources said.
The weapons onboard Rudra cover all role aspects including air-to-air and air-to-ground from the stabilised and turreted high-velocity M621 20 mm cannon to long-range 70 mm rockets (8 km) and air-to-air missiles (Mistral-II). The EW suite consists of MAWS (missile approach warning system) laser and radar warning systems and automated with sensors covering all envisaged threats. It has automatic dispensation of countermeasures like chaff and fare dispensing systems. HAL claims that Rudra is the only attack helicopter in the world which can operate in the higher reaches of the Himalayas with a decent armament load.
“The MI-35 is restricted to well below 6000 feet and the newly-acquired Apache will be restricted to below 12,000 feet. This puts the onerous task of defending the Himalayas on Rudra. It is not strictly an attack helicopter in the present day context and perhaps be compared to a proof-of-concept US-Israeli Black Hawk (completed in 2009) and to the recent IAR-330 SOCAT armed upgrade version of Eurocopter’s Puma helicopter,” says HAL sources.
Both Black Hawk and Puma are in the 9 tonne AUW (all-up weight) Class, and have far lesser high-altitude performance compared to Rudra. The Mk-III version of Dhruv holds the record of landing on a helipad at 20,000 feet in Siachen (world’s highest helipad) carrying a load in excess of 600 kg, during peak summers.Copyright@The New Indian Express