New Delhi: In a significant development for India’s maritime preparedness, the Eastern Seaboard Monday got its first Naval air squadron. The Indian Naval Air Squadron 324, referred to as INAS 324, was commissioned at INS Dega, a Naval station in Visakhapatnam, where the Eastern Naval Command is headquartered.
The squadron is equipped with Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) MK III (MR) helicopters, manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
The new squadron was commissioned in the presence of Vice Admiral Biswajit Dasgupta, flag officer commanding-in-chief, Eastern Naval Command.
INAS 324 operating the indigenously designed & built Advanced Light Helicopter MK III helicopters was commissioned into the #IndianNavy in the presence of Vice Adm Biswajit Dasgupta, FOC-in-C #ENC at an impressive Commissioning Ceremony held at INS Dega, #Visakhapatnam today. pic.twitter.com/1cNOKWOlWB
— Defence PRO Visakhapatnam (@PRO_Vizag) July 4, 2022
The Eastern Naval Command is responsible for all operations in the Bay of Bengal and parts of the Indian Ocean.
More than a boost to reconnaissance
Sources in the defence and security establishment said the squadron will play a significant role in boosting the Navy’s maritime reconnaissance as well as search and rescue operations.
Specifically, the ALH MK III helicopters are fitted with the latest and advanced technologies and equipment, which include modern surveillance radars and electro-optical sensors. These will aid the Navy’s operations on the Eastern Seaboard.
However, the benefits of the helicopters will not be limited to reconnaissance and search and rescue operations of the Indian Navy.
Sources explain that the choppers can also play a critical role in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations. The choppers are equipped with an airborne medical intensive care unit (MICU) and this can be used during emergencies. The MICUs also give the option of employing the helicopters as air ambulances to facilitate the evacuation of critical patients.
Alluding to the enhanced uses of the choppers, sources also said that the ALHs can also be used to assist marine commandos during special operations.
INAS 324 is being commanded by Cdr SS Dash, a qualified ALH flying instructor.