Kochi: The first Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH)  squadron was commissioned Tuesday by Western Naval Command chief Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha here.

The ALH, named Dhruv, is the first indigenously designed and manufactured helicopter built by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. It has proven its multi-role capabilities and its mettle in all the three services of India’s armed forces, besides in the Indian Coast Guard, the Border Security Force, and in the inventory of foreign countries.

The newly commissioned squadron would be known as the Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) 322.

Addressing the commissioning ceremony, Vice Admiral Sinha said that in the navy, Dhruv helicopters have been transformed into advanced search and rescue (SAR) helicopters. They are also used for heliborne operations, and armed patrol with night vision devices.

Such machines in the inventory have become imperative for the navy, given the scenario of low-intensity maritime operations and coastal security, he added.

Vice Admiral Satish Soni, Southern Naval Command chief under whose administrative control the INAS 322 would function, in his address said the versatile chopper would soon be cleared for night SAR role, one of the few helicopters in the world to have that capability over sea.

He also expressed satisfaction that the ALH would beef up the coast security architecture.

The commissioning ceremony was held at INS Garuda, the Naval Air Station and mother base of the INAS 322, here.

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