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Pranab sees huge export potential for ALHs

By Our Staff Reporter

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, AUG. 30. The Union Minister for Defence, Pranab Mukherjee, has said that there was a huge export potential for the indigenously manufactured Advanced Light Helicopters (ALHs).

The Minister, who visited the headquarters of the Southern Air Command (SAC) at Aakkulam on the outskirts of the city today, said these helicopters were already being inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Mr. Mukherjee, who flew in one of the helicopters on his arrival at the SAC in the afternoon for a familiarisation sortie, said its manoeuvrability, speed and automation, including the avionics, were most modern and up-to-date.

"This will meet not only our requirements, but also our export potentials," he added.

On his arrival at the Thiruvananthapuram airport, the Defence Minister was received by Air Marshal S.K. Malik, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Air Command, Brigadier Johnson, Station Commander, Pangode Military Centre, and other senior officers of the defence services, besides political leaders.

Briefing on Dhruv

At the headquarters of the SAC, Wing Commander Hari Nair, leader of the SARANG helicopter display team, briefed the Minister on the capability and development programme of the ALH, Dhruv.

The Dhruv is a multi-role, multi-mission, new generation helicopter in the 5.5-tonne weight class. It has been flown extensively in diverse terrains, ranging from hot tropical deserts to the great Himalayan heights. It has an incomparable military capability, including heli-borne assault, and can be pressed into service for air observation post, logistic support, casualty evacuation, reconnaissance and training. It is designed to meet the requirement of both military and civil operations.

Civil variant

The civil variant of Dhruv carries forward the ruggedness of the military variant. It can carry six passengers in the executive version and 12 in its passenger version.

The helicopter display team of the Indian Air Force, named the SARANG, had demonstrated the capabilities of the helicopter during the current air shows in Thiruvananthapuram this Onam season.

Recently, it was also demonstrated in Chile where it was well-received, according to sources in the IAF.

The air show organised here by the SARANG and Surya Kiran aerobatic teams of the IAF in connection with the Onam Week celebrations concluded here this evening. It was held in four sessions on two days and was a major attraction of the Onam celebrations this year.

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