New Delhi, Jun 15: The Indian Navy have asked Defence major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) to improve the naval version of the advanced light helicopter (ALH) 'Dhruv' before more of the flying machines are inducted into the service. Though the Navy have asserted that it has not ''written off'' the helicopter as speculated, it wants HAL to work on certain suggestions to make 'Dhruv' fulfill the requirements of the Navy.
As of now Navy operates six 'Dhruv' helicpters from its on shore bases. ''The landing gear (wheels) of the helicopter need to be strengthened further to allow it to land on moving ships,'' said a senior official here. ''Unlike land, the ship's landing deck is an alltogether different place...ships shake on choppy waters and the landing platform keeps moving. For that we need better landing gear,'' he explained.
The HAL has also been asked to reduce the take of weight of the helicopter. ''In Navy, any helicopter is required to carry radars and at least some anti-submarine weapons...even the 'Chetak' helicopters we have fire torpedoes. With the extra weight on, the flight endurance is reduced,'' he said.
The official further said the HAL has worked out the problems being faced by the Navy in folding the rotor blades of the helicopter while parking it on board ships. ''The space on board is less and aircraft have to be parked in hangers to keep them away from sea environment as it may result in corrosion,'' he added.
The 'Dhruv' will eventually replace the lighter 'Chetak' helicopters.
''The same is happening in Army. But Dhruv is not a replacement for bigger Sea King helicopters,'' he said adding that Dhruv and Sea Kings are helicopters of different categories.
The military variants of 'Dhruv' include crashworthy fuel tanks, frangible couplings and infra-red suppressors for the engines. The helicopter design enables the crew to survive vertical impacts of up to 30 feet per second, due to the safety seats and a design of controlled deformation of fuselage crumple zones.
The cabin was designed to seat 12 people, however 14 can be accommodated in a high-density configuration. Rearward-sliding passenger doors are featured on either end, with large clamshell doors at the rear of the cabin. The clamshell doors can be removed, in exceptional cases, to carry unusual and unwieldy loads. An underslung load hook is standard on military variants. The air ambulance variant enables the Dhruv to accommodate two to four stretchers, with a couple of attendants, the official informed.