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ALH Dhruv as Naval Light Utiility helicopter and Anti-Submarine

Helicopter for Indian Navy:

What has happened is that people have been given an impression due to the
main stream media reports that ALH as a ASW platform is only second fiddle
to S-70B or other such platforms. The fact that 6 out of 10 Kamovs were
allowed to rot, too must have been leaked and that kind of sets the
standards - Only Apple phone kaam karega ji. Nothing could be farther from
the truth. Mull this:
1) The ALH-ASW was criticized because it was 5.1 meters after folding up. It
could easily have been presumed that HAL has good kartavya prarayan
engineers on hire who would ask the Indian Navy as to what was the biggest
helo they were managing to push into there ship's hangers, after folding up.
This presumption requires one to junk the a-priori presumption that - Indian
engineers who have never given a thought to a Green Card, are just plain
stupid. The fact is that helos like Sea King are substantially in the same ball
park width as the ALH-ASW, both considered after being folded (my guess is
Sea King is exactly 5.1 meter width from tail rotor position on one side to
landing gear position on another side). This is relevant for stowage of ALHASW.
2) Fact also is that that overhang issue should not have been brought up at
all. Unless the idea was to stupefy the inattentive. Even if you encounter a
situation where you have to make a big helo land on a Kora class sized
corvette, the option of Helimesh and Helipad nettings is always there. Its not
like your small Corvette is going to play Limbo. Ocean is a vast place and the
service crew or tools going overboard while manually folding rotors can be
caught easily by way of these Helimeshes. Using helimeshes and nets a
simple corvette can sport the same width as an Aircarft carrier if it has to.
Fence cum Helimesh and nettings, like this:


ALH has no difficulty meeting either the NLUH requirement nor does it lag in
the ASW role. That is why there has always been its criticism. :P ALH is
simply too good.
The NLUH-RFP says nothing about the weight restrictions. And IIRC, the
NLUH-RFP is released under the Buy & Make India category.
Even if it did, then any competition that is willing to consider a Panther in
LUH category, cannot seriously keep the ALH out. ALH weighs about 122 kgs
more than Panther (empty weight basis).

And helo stationing requirements with respect to weight are not tight for the
Shipboard use as you claim. Here is a link showing a vessel of 1200 tonne full
load displacement carrying helo with an empty weight of 2960 kg. The vessel
is lighter than the lightest helo capable vessel (Khukri Class at 1350 tonne)
that Indian Navy has also a lesser beam. And needless to add the empty
weight of that helo (Bell Agusta AB212-ASW) is about 18%-20% higher than
that of ALH.

Hope that convinces you that ALH is not heavy for the NLUH category.
Re. ASW category:
I agree the heavier helos are good for bigger ships and aircraft carriers and I
dont rue the fact that Indian Navy bought as many of them as they have
ordered. But even for that category the NH-90 should have been taken
because of its much better sensor capabilities. After an ASW asset is
primarily its sensors. S-70B seems to be a political buy to say thank you for

the so called life saving benefits that Indian has enjoyed on account of 123
Anyhow even here the ALH-ASW is actually better than both the heavier
types, from the overall perspective. Because while the NH-90 and S-70B can
only be used from the heavier ships the landing of these heavier ASW
platforms at the far end of the operating area will not necessarily get an
equally big ship. The so called ideal S-70B may well find itself under-utilized,
because the only ship available near the outer limit of its range is a Khukri
class vessel :D. Had it been an ALH-ASW it would easily have landed on the
Khukri class and replenished and returned to duty in double fast time.
Mostly the requirements are just visions as to the use of the proposed asset.
I usually tend to believe in the methods instead of requirements. With
methods the weakest equipped have repeatedly beaten bigger foes with well
recognized and well met requirements (aka vision).
Now once you get the fun in all these range-calculations you will be forced to
admit that the only way to employ an S-70B is to keep it nearer to the bigger
vessels it is based out of, say 75 NM max. And nearer that range again the
ALH-ASW has advantage because it can take all the sensors and weapons
that S-70B can for as long as an ASW helo actually needs to be on station
considering the available resources.
If somebody agrees with comments like ALH is simply too small to house
all of the high-end ASW electronics AND to ahve high endurance.
It only means you have never gotten round to calculating the weights of
different payload combinations possible for given mission requirements
considering different landing platforms available. The X-Band radar will be
around 100 kg, the dunking Sonar around 400 kg, the sonobuoys each will
weigh between 9-15 kg (say 400 kg for 25 of these) and the TAL torpedo
each at 250 kg (total 500 kg for 2). The ALH still has space for 1000 kg of
fuel if you wish. Though the same fuel may not be needed at all, if you really
try to figure out how at the very best an ASW helo can be used. The ASW
helos cannot realistically operate, independent of the landing platforms
available in a given sector. And in this the ALH will always have the upper
hand because of its smaller size. BTW ALH has same installed power as a Sea
King with much better disc loading. So that will power up the nearly the
same payload if not more. And Sea King is not small. ALH merely packages it
all better.
The only reason world navies are using heavier helos for ASW is because
only of the money power and not because there is any real use for it. The
same as F-35 JSF.
BTW a few moneyed navies do not constitute the worlds navies. The real
worlds navies are still using the lighter helos for ASW missions.

Anyhow its water under the bridge now that the Indian Navy has already
ordered the lousy S-70B only to say thank you to worlds biggest Protection
Racketeer for the 123 agreement.
But yes the Indian Navy as an institution is still very much into indigenous
capabilities and which is why they have repeatedly expressed interest in the
ALH-ASW both by words and deeds. I also agree that HAL has not been able
to manage its priorities strategically. HAL could have thought of the
segmented blades earlier. HAL could have preempted the vibration issues,
entirely. HAL could have offered the pricing better. The whole ASW version
could have come earlier even if with foreign sensors (to be later replaced).
HAL could insist in the negotiations, or at least could have leaked news to
create pressure, that the only version they will supply to the Indian Navy will
be the segmented blade version (I wonder if they have).
But in any case the Indian Navy will never be able to command the kind of
monetary resources it needs for the vast requirements it actually has to
meet. Which will force it to rely on the ALH-ASW, as and when it is made
properly available.
Even more importantly no politico in MOD/PMO (not even a laggard like
Anthony/MMS) would like to rely on the foreign suppliers for the real fight
category. Its simply too risky in political terms.
And do not count the sundry RFIs and RFPs as anything special. It is only a
professionals job to be abreast of the latest which is something to be
encouraged. Deals/proposals have been canceled at much-much later
stages. The IMRH you had mentioned as only a HAL proposal and that itself is
a clear indication that there are gears within gears within gears. Off course
the IMRH should have been started by now. That is why I also mentioned the
3-engined variant of Dhruv. But its not.