HAL offers private players to license manufacture ALH Dhruv for civil operations
Younis Ahmad Kaloo
At a time when government’s ‘Make in India’ campaign is not making much headway, with experts saying it is far too lower than what one expected since its launch in late 2014, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has, for the first time, offered private Indian companies to license manufacture the indigenous Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv (civil version) through transfer of technology (ToT). The state-owned company sees it as a ‘major boost to defence manufacturing and ‘Make in India’ initiative’.
The decision also comes at a time when there is a growing demand for helicopters in Indian market for both defence as well civil uses. Combined with the requirement from civil sector, the Indian helicopter market is said to soar as high as USD30-40 billion in about a decade.
HAL’S objective of partnering with a ‘reliable’ Indian company to manufacture and supply ALH Dhruv civil helicopter through ToT under license, as mentioned in the expression of interest (EOI) document issued on February 16, is to service the potential demand to different customers in civil sector in shorter time spans and continued product support. The selected Indian company will be required to provide support to the customers throughout life — 20 years — of the helicopter. HAL, as a technology provider, will provide ToT through license and transfer of know–how, technical assistance and license rights for production of ALH-Dhruv (civil) for the selected business partner.
“Considering the increasing need of helicopters in civil operations of the country, this will be a mega deal from HAL which is the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and licensor,” said CMD HAL, T. Suvarna Raju.
The Indian partner, according to HAL, should have five years of experience in engineering/aerospace industry (including manufacturing and assembly), a net worth of Rs 2,000 crores and minimum turnover of Rs 2,500 crores, possess skilled and qualified manpower, is registered in India or has majority holding by Indian stakeholders and is willing to enter a strategic collaboration with HAL. The last date of submission of EOI is 6 April 2018.
As learnt by FORCE, HAL may also consider going in for license manufacture of other variants of Dhruv based on the response and success of partnering with Indian companies for the manufacture of the civil variant of the helicopter under ToT.
Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv is presently being used by the Indian Army, Indian Air Force (IAF), Indian Navy (IN) and Indian Coast Guard (ICG). In addition, HAL has also sold ALH Dhruv to other domestic customers such as para-military forces, state governments and public sector undertakings. The company has also exported ALH Dhruv to countries like Nepal, Maldives, Ecuador and Mauritius. However, in a major setback to export plans of Dhruv for which HAL shares an agreement with the Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), Ecuador terminated the deal with HAL after four of the seven helicopters crashed, following which the remaining three were grounded. In the deal worth USD45.2 million, Ecuador had procured five ALH Dhruv helicopters in 2009 and two in 2011. In October 2015, Ecuador ‘unilaterally’ terminated the contract with HAL.
Since the termination of the deal with Ecuador, HAL has not yet signed any new deal with any country for the export of ALH Dhruv.
Nonetheless, HAL, according to reports, is in talks with select countries of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), South East Asia and Africa to propel further sales of the Dhruv helicopter. It is also learnt that in future contracts HAL will propose long-term onsite maintenance support for more than three years. Moreover, with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification of Dhruv, which HAL is awaiting, the company is expected to have a whole new market for the sale of the helicopter. The company, as part of the process to acquire the EASA certification for ALH Dhruv, has already carried out noise measurement flight trials in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
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