INDIA. Mumbai: The Indian Naval Air Squadron 330 (INAS 330), “Harpoons”, an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopter squadron of the Indian Navy, celebrated its 52nd anniversary at its base, INS Shikra, in south Mumbai on Monday.
INAS 330 was commissioned on April 17, 1971, at INS Garuda, Kochi (Kerala). It was shifted to Mumbai on October 17, 1995. The squadron, comprising Sea King 42B aircraft and ASW helicopters, has been an integral part of the fleet. The air arm operates from the aircraft carrier and fleet ships.
The Sea King helicopter is a multi-role helicopter and has been used for all-around surveillance, search and rescue operations, warfare, and as a transportation platform for the last several decades.
“The aircraft is equipped with weapons and sensors to meet operational requirements in a multi-threat environment. The squadron undertakes reconnaissance, search and rescue, trials, and training commitments. The helicopter is capable of maritime surveillance, launching torpedoes and depth charges, and is aptly named, ‘The Flying Frigate’,” an official read.
“INAS 330” has been numbered as per the sequential serial number of the air squadrons of the Indian Navy. The crest design depicts the shark as a symbol of an enemy submarine that has been pierced by a winged harpoon, indicating that it is an airborne weapon.
The squadron was initially equipped with Sea King Mk 42 ASW helicopters, acquired from British Westland Helicopters Ltd., equipped with dunking sonar and lightweight air-dropped homing torpedoes. At present, it operates the Mk 42 B variant. The helicopter is among the most potent weapon platforms in the naval inventory, capable of launching anti-ship missiles.
The squadron was baptised by fire during the 1971 Indo-Pak war. On July 26, 1971, Sea King landed on “INS Vikrant” for the first time, and from that day on, the indomitable team of Harpoons and the aircraft carrier Vikrant saw a series of firsts. The first operational ASW mission was flown on October 18, 1971.
On November 30, 1971, the first vectored attack was carried out on a suspected submarine contact. Besides this, extensive operations were also undertaken, and the Harpoons clocked over 156 hours of the war effort. The unbridled commitment of the squadron is captured in its motto – “Any sea, Any mission, Any deck”.
“INAS 330” had pioneered such adaptations and heralded a legacy that now has been extended to India, operating helicopters from smaller platforms like the “Taragiri”- and “Godavari”-class frigates and follow-on ships of the Brahmaputra, Delhi, and Kolkata class.
The squadron has won the coveted “Best Frontline Squadron” and “Best Naval Air Squadron” awards on numerous occasions and continues to remain the eyes and ears of the fleet. The squadron has proved to be a force multiplier due to the Sea King’s all-weather, day and night capability.