HAL bets on more overseas orders for Dhruv choppers

August 14th, 2008 - 10:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Aug 14 (IANS) State-run Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) is hard-selling its flagship advanced light helicopter (ALH) Dhruv in the international market for orders to supply 16-18 of them in South America, Middle East and South East Asia, a top official said here Thursday. “We see bright prospects to secure orders for selling 16-18 Dhruvs of utility variant in these markets over the next 12-24 months. In addition to the recent order for supply of seven ALHs from Ecuadorian Air Force, we have received enquiry for two more copters from Ecuador, which we hope to get soon, taking the total to nine,” HAL chairman Ashok K. Baweja told IANS.

By showcasing the utility variant of the multi-role copters at various air shows the world over, HAL has not only spread its awareness in the global market, but also generated a lot of enquiries about its features, functions and operational aspects, he said.

“We have received an order from Turkey last week for supply of three Dhruvs to meet its immediate requirement. Similarly, Jordan has shown interest in Dhruv. So has Malaysia, Bolivia and Peru, which we hope will translate into orders soon,” Baweja said on the sidelines of HAL handing-over its indigenously-built Hawk advanced jet trainer to the Indian Air Force (IAF).

HAL plans to set up a maintenance base and marketing office in South America to serve its potential customers and pitch for more orders.

“Going forward, we will shift our helicopter foreign operations to South America from the Indian sub-continent to focus on the Latin market, which has potential for civil and military variants of Dhruv,” Baweja noted.

HAL bagged the Ecuador order, valued at $51 million (Rs.21.4 billion) in late June for seven Dhruvs through a competitive bid in which Elbit, Eurocopter and Kazan participated.

The defence major had supplied a civil variant to Nepal under the bilateral military cooperation between the two countries.

Earlier attempts to hardsell Dhruv to Chile in south America failed despite a request for proposal from the Chilean air force.

In the domestic market, about 80 utility variants of Dhruv are in operation with the three services, Coast Guard and a couple of corporate firms.

“We have orders to supply 159 more Dhruvs from IAF and army over the next two-three years, with indigenous Shakti engines. We will be manufacturing utility as well as military variants for the three services,” Baweja added.

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