The defence industry will add a feather to its cap when the country’s first indigenously built attack helicopter will get its initial operational clearance (IOC) by December-end which will enable the Army to raise its first Squadron by March 2013.
Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the country’s lone public sector aircraft manufacturer, has rolled out the Weapon System Integrated (WSI) helicopter, a senior Ministry of Defence (MoD) official told Express. “The IOC will be provided by the Bangalore-based Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) and HAL will be responsible for carrying out the certification process,” he said.
It was around five years ago that the HAL, which had been riding the high crest of its success in developing the indigenous ‘Dhruv’ Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), was asked to develop the WSI version of the ‘Dhruv’ that has now been rechristened ‘Rudra’.
The Army, meanwhile, has already placed an initial order for 60 ‘Rudra’ helicopters. Besides, the IAF has ordered 16 rotary wing flying machines. The 60 choppers are for the Army Aviation Corps, which recently got a shot in the arm, with the MoD approving its demand for operating the attack helicopters in the future.
With the IOC for ‘Rudra’ expected by December- end, the Army hopes to raise the first Squadron with 10 choppers by March 2013. And the ‘Rudras’ will be inducted over the years to raise six Squadrons for the Army Aviation Corps.
The twin-engine ‘Rudras’, propelled by indigenous Shakti engines and having a glass cockpit, have been equipped with turret-fitted 20mm machine guns,70mm rockets, anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and air-to-air missiles.