HAL Rudra :- India indigenously designed Attack Helicopter
The HAL Rudra also known as ALH-WSI is an armed version of HAL Dhruv. Rudra is equipped with Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) and Thermal Imaging Sights Interface, a 20 mm turret gun, 70 mm rocket pods, anti-tank guided missiles and air-to-air missiles.
While flight testing the Light Combat Helicopter, a modified version of HAL Dhruv, the Indian Army came to the conclusion that without making any major modifications to the Dhruv air-frame, an armed variant can also be developed and delivered to the army quickly. This variant was named Rudra.
The Rudra underwent integration trial for armament and electro-optical systems and a final round of weapon firing trials in September 2011, which included testing of the 20-mm turret gun. The 70 mm rockets and MBDA Mistral air-to-air missiles were tested in November 2011.The helicopter exceeded the payload and performance requirements at the height of 6 km. It has integrated sensors, weapons and electronic warfare suite, and uses an upgraded version of the glass cockpit used in the HAL Dhruv Mk-III. The sensors include stabilised day and night cameras, infrared imaging as well as laser ranging and designation. It has an Integrated Defensive Aids Suite (IDAS) from SAAB, with electronic warfare self-protection which is fully integrated into the glass cockpit. On-board self-defence systems include radar & missile detectors, IR jammer, chaff and flare dispensers. The helicopter can be used in both unarmed and armed roles that include reconnaissance, troop transport, anti-tank warfare and close air support.
In September 2012, ground tests for the first production Rudra were completed. It featured a turret gun, rockets, air-to-air missiles and could carry air-to-ground missiles like the anti-tank helicopter-launched Nag. HAL was awarded with a combined order of 76 Rudras for the Indian army, the primary customer, and the Indian air force. It was reportedly that the weapons platforms and avionics of HAL Rudra and the under-development Light Combat Helicopter would be the same.
Arming the Dhurv comes after Indian Army keep fighting for buying new fleet of attack helicopters for air cover, Even the armed Mi 17 v5 operated under the Air force, since Indian Army don’t have any attack helicopters. Army gets a better system for primary air cover to the ground forces. Currently Indian Army only have some Dhruv’s for troop transport and resupply.
Army needs two version of modified helicopters, One for reconnaissance and SIGINT purpose, another for dedicated attack support. or by saying Mark III and Mark IV version of Dhurv. The Mark III incorporates reconnaissance hardware along with counter measure suites. The Indian Army Aviation operates some 20 such Mark III Dhruv’s.
Interestingly the Mark 3 version comes with Indigenously made Sakthi engines, The engine was developed with the support of Safron, France. The same version who also powers the LCH and future variants of Dhurv’s. The same engine also used in the prototype version of Russian Ka 60 utility helicopters. The Sakthi is one of the known engine used by the Dhurv mark 3, 4 versions.
The Mark IV has all the above specification along with weapon systems, A improved infrared jammer and helmet mounted pointing system. The obstacle avoidance system used in the Rudra used to alert the pilot, if the helicopter flying very closer to an nearby obstacle. The system alert the pilot about small size objects like Electricity power cables, telecom towers and close hills too.
Rudra can be armed with 70mm unguided Rockets and missiles like Nag anti tank missile and French made mistral air to air missile. The Naval version comes with two light torpedo’s for anti shipping capability. During the Navy’s evaluation trails The Israeli Elbit’s target tracking system tracked surface ships at the range of 14 kilometers, and the IRST illustrated image quality good enough to read even the designation number of the Ship. Which impressed the Navy to adopt the Dhurv Mark III for coastal surveillance operations. However Navy not interested the WSI Dhruv. but the Mark 3 version.
Rudra effectively used in Kashmir and Rajasthan during the Trails, which can be used to stop enemy adversaries, Same goes to Eastern sector too. The Indian Army aviation currently operating two Rudra’s. Which is deployed close to Kashmir. and the serial production rolling on HAL production line. Same like other projects lack of funds, man power and manufacturing items, Rudra running behind the schedule. Privatizing the Production line brings good number of output in coming years.
The Air force, Army and Navy interested in the Armed variant of the Dhruv. Army already place some sixty units of Rudra, and Air force too order 16 units. However the orders can be increased along with export orders. Currently HAL produced only 27 units of both Mark III and Mark IV Variants.