The prolonged development period of the HAL "Dhruv" utility helicopter (detailed elsewhere on this site) finally led to service introduction with the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force in March of 2002. Over 230 examples have been built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) of India to date (2018) and the design has since been used as the framework for two other notable offshoots of the base family line - the HAL Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and the HAL "Rudra".
While the LCH represents a more traditional approach to the dedicated attack helicopter platform (twin engines, stepped two-man cockpit, "tail-dragger" undercarriage) the Rudra follows more the design path of a gunship as it is capable of troop transport and other over-battlefield roles mainly due to its utility origins. The Rudra saw a first-flight in prototype form on August 16th, 2007 and entered service (with the Indian Army) in 2012. Production has been ongoing since 2007.
The Rudra was born directly from the Dhruv design as that airframe offered the most amount return with the existing package to keep the project on schedule and within budget. The platform entered weapons / systems testing in 2011 and ground tests followed in 2012. Flight trials were then had in late-2012 / early-2013. Seventy-six helicopters made up the original Indian Army and Air Force commitment. An additional twenty were then ordered by the Indian Navy. The Army received its first example in 2013.
The form and function of the Dhruv are more or less retained in the Rudra. Cockpit seating is side-by-side for two and the passenger section is aft. Over the compartment sits a low-mounted, four-bladed main rotor unit. The tail steam is raised, owing to the cargo-minded nature of the original Dhruv and, within, is the drive shaft used to power the four-bladed tail rotor situated to the starboard side. The tail also forms the vertical tail fin and holds a pair of horizontal planes, each capped by smaller vertical planes. The undercarriage is fixed as it is of the typical four-point skid arrangement - resulting in a relatively less-complicated, low-maintenance product. Vision out-of-the-cockpit is excellent thanks to the heavily glazed nose offering views to the sides, forward, below and above. The cockpit crew is served by the Israeli Elbit CoMPASS opto-electronic suite and Swedish SAAB IDAS-3 countermeasures package. Forward-Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) is installed as well as thermal imaging.
The attack portion of the Rudra is made possible by the various fits the frame can handle. Optional outboard wingstubs can be fitted to the sides of the fuselage and these allow the carrying of air-to-surface / air-to-air missiles, rocket pods, gun pods and cannon pods. Additionally, at the nose, a 20mm M621 automatic trainable cannon can be installed in a "chin" mounting in a French Nexter THL-20 series powered turret. Supported munitions include Helina Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs), French Mistral air-to-air missiles, torpedoes, depth charges, anti-ship-missiles and 68mm/70mm unguided rocket pods.
The versatility of the Rudra is seen in this armament support - allowing all major Indian military services to make use of a common airframe to handle their various required tasks such as anti-ship / anti-submarine sorties, Search-and-Rescue (SAR) and general reconnaissance not to mention flight training, at-sea replenishment and maritime patrolling. The helicopter can also be used in special mission roles in support of special operations troops as needed.
Power to the design is by way of 2 x HAL (French Turbomeca) "Shakti" turboshaft engines developing 1,400 horsepower each and driving the multi-bladed configuration over the fuselage and at the tail. Alternatively, the airframe can accept the 1,000 horsepower Turbomeca TM333-2B2 turboshaft set. Maximum speed can reach 180 miles-per-hour with a range out to 515 miles and a service ceiling of 20,000 feet. Rate-of-climb is reported at 2,030 feet--per-minute.
The Rudra has been developed into two distinct operational models designated as Rudra Mk.III and Rudra Mk.IV. The former is largely equipped for Electronic Warfare (EW) with a full sensor and countermeasures suite but generally lacks support for armament. The latter sports the aforementioned weapons suite representing the complete gunship platform.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
✓Close-Air Support (CAS)
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
✓Special-Mission: Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
Equipped to search, track, and engage enemy underwater elements by way of specialized onboard equipment and weapons.
Equipped to search, track, and engage enemy surface elements through visual acquisition, radar support, and onboard weaponry.
✓Special-Mission: Search & Rescue (SAR)
Ability to locate and extract personnel from areas of potential harm or peril (i.e. downed airmen in the sea).
General transport functionality to move supplies/cargo or personnel (including wounded and VIP) over range.
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
Serving Special Forces / Special Operations elements and missions.
52.2 ft (15.90 m)
43.3 ft (13.20 m)
16.3 ft (4.98 m)
5,512 lb (2,500 kg)
12,125 lb (5,500 kg)
+6,614 lb (+3,000 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the HAL Rudra production variant)
2 x HAL (Turbomeca) Shakti turboshaft engines developing 1,400 horsepower each and driving a four-bladed main rotor and four-bladed tail rotor unit.
1 x 20mm M621 cannon fitted in Nexter THL-20 chin-mounted powered turret.
Mixed ordnance loads consisting of the Helina Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM), the MBDA short-range air-to-air missile, 68mm/70mm unguided rockets (fired from pods), anti-ship missiles, torpedoes and depth charges.
(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 2
Rudra - Base Series Name
Rudra Mk.III - Sans weapons support but outfitted with equipment such as CounterMeasures (CM) and Electronic Warfare (EW) as well as specialized sensors.
Rudra Mk.IV - Armed variant for the attack helicopter / gunship role.
Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
The overall rating takes into account over 60 individual factors related to this aircraft entry.
Rating is out of a possible 100 points.
Relative Maximum Speed
This entry's maximum listed speed (180mph).
Graph average of 150 miles-per-hour.
HAL Rudra operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
Max Altitude Visualization
The three qualities reflected above are altitude, speed, and range.
Aviation Era Span
Showcasing era cross-over of this aircraft design.
Unit Production (30)
Compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian).
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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