The crash of a fourth Ecuadorian air force Dhruv helicopter, on January 27, is likely to have serious consequences for their Indian manufacturer, state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), and raise further questions about its ability to play a major role in India’s defence modernization.
The latest crash is the fourth since the type was introduced into the Ecuadorian air force in 2009, as part of a 7-aircraft purchase worth $45 million. The four crashes have killed three military personnel and injured several more, and have prompted Ecuador to restrict operations of the remaining three, Security Minister Cesar Navas said in an interview published Jan 28.
In an attempt to stave off these consequences, Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said Jan 31 that “Dhruv is a good platform. If there is any issue about maintenance…I have already discussed. I have asked HAL to create a depot wherever it is required so that spares are available,” the PTI reported from New Delhi.
The subject is a sensitive one in India, where successive governments have tried to involve their industry in the production of military equipment they buy overseas, and where HAL — the largest state-owned industrial firm – is intended to be a major beneficiary of the “Make in India” procurement policy.
HAL’s performance is also under close scrutiny because the company’s credibility as an aerospace manufacturer is a major factor in the continuing contractual stand-off in India’s $20 billion purchase of 128 Dassault Rafale fighters.
While most of the contract details have been ironed out in the three years since India selected the Rafale in January 2012, contract signature is reportedly being held up by India’s insistence that Dassault assume legal responsibility — and provide a legal warranty — for the aircraft assembled in India by HAL.
The Dhruv accidents in Ecuador are being investigated by a joint investigation board with technical assistance from France and Brazil, while a team from HAL has inspected the aircraft damaged in a previous accident on Jan 14 and said it had found no mechanical anomaly.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.