Indian Navy commissions first naval air squadron in Visakhapatnam

An advanced light helicopter squadron was commissioned into the Indian Navy in Visakhapatnam on Monday to further bolster its maritime surveillance apparatus.

It is the first naval squadron on the eastern seaboard operating the indigenously designed and built advanced light helicopter (ALH) MK III.

According to an Indian Navy spokesperson, Indian Naval Air Squadron 324 was commissioned into the Indian Navy in the presence of Vice Admiral Biswajit Dasgupta, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command.

INAS 324 has been named “KESTRELS”, which are birds of prey and have good sensory capabilities, symbolising the envisaged role of the aircraft and the air squadron.

The insignia of the squadron depicts a “KESTREL” searching over vast blue and white sea waves, which signifies the integral maritime reconnaissance and search-and-rescue (SAR) role, the official said.

The ALH MK III helicopters are fitted with state-of-the-art equipment which includes modern surveillance radar and electro-optical sensors.

These helicopters can also be deployed for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations as well as special operations with Marine Commandos. The helicopter also has an airborne Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) for use in the air ambulance role to facilitate the medical evacuation of critically ill patients.

Addressing the gathering, Vice Admiral Biswajit Dasgupta stated that the commissioning of the first ALH MK III Squadron in the Eastern Naval Command would enhance the surveillance capability on the Eastern Seaboard.

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