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Problems plague advanced light helicopter Dhruv

Last updated on: August 5, 2010 20:56 IST

Problems plague advanced light helicopter Dhruv

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Even after 10 years of its production, the indigenous Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv still depends heavily on imports as most of its components are procured from foreign sources, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has said.

In its latest report, the CAG said, "90 per cent of the value of material used in each helicopter is still imported from foreign suppliers. Even though the Dhruv is in production for 10 years, the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited has not been able to find indigenous suppliers."

"The envisaged indigenisation level of 50 per cent is yet to be achieved," the report added.

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Image: Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv

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Pulling up HAL for the delay in addressing quality issues facing the chopper, the report said, "for its delay in addressing the Tail Rotor Blade (TRB) issues, the Company had to forgo expected revenue of Rs 16.32 crore on the lease of two helicopters to Israel and Karnataka government, which were not used."

The CAG said HAL should investigate into the reasons behind failure of engines, as it had to withdraw them before their scheduled overhaul period of 2000 hours due to earlier mishaps.

It pointed out that the weaponised version of the chopper has not yet been developed even after a lapse of ten years and the Rs 138 crore spent on the project have "not resulted in any tangible benefits."


Image: Dhruv production line at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Bangalore

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The report pulled up the premier aerospace company for its inability to get international safety certifications for the chopper, which has prevented it from penetrating international market.

It said that due to non-availability of required certification, the HAL "could not get orders from Turkey for two ALH on lease though the MoU was signed in October 2008".

The report said that despite getting certification from the DGCA and having a dedicated marketing wing, the company has not been able to penetrate the Indian civil market also.

"The company could not successfully execute even the orders received from the civil market," it added.


Image: US Army soldiers exit an Indian army HAL Dhruv advanced light helicopter from the 201st Army Aviation Squadron during static load training on Camp Bundela, India

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The report said that despite delivering 74 helicopters in the last nine years to the defence services, the HAL has not been able to complete the technical documentation to get the approval for the chopper.

"The acceptance of the ALH by defence forces with the concessions could be a contributing factor for the slow pace in achieving the standards by the company and delay in overcoming the operational deficiencies," it observed.

On the more powerful Shakti engines for the chopper, the central auditors said the whole programme is yet to be certified and has been delayed by three years resulting in postponement of delivery schedules in 2009-10.


Image: HAL Dhruv performing aerobatics at Aero India 2009

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The report said the chopper was supposed to have empty weight of 2.24 tonnes and replace the ageing Cheetah/Chetak fleet of choppers but due to its excess weight, it was found "unsuitable" for the task.

The HAL has now equipped the chopper with Shakti engines and claims that the ALH meets the requisite payloads.

The report also slammed the HAL for not freezing design of the chopper in time resulting in making 363 modifications in choppers supplied to the armed forces.


Image: The Shakti engine

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