The myth surrounding the much-hyped advanced light helicopter (ALH) Dhruv, touted as an indigenously-built showpiece, has been laid to rest.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has revealed that 90 per cent of material used in it was imported. The Rs 2,103-crore project should have been at least 50 per cent indigenous.
What's more, the 74 helicopters supplied to the armed forces fall short of expectations. Planned as a replacement for the Cheetah/Chetak fleet of the army and air force, the 5.5-tonne ALH has been found unsuitable due to its excess weight and underpowered engines.
Plans to equip it with the more powerful Shakti engines are behind schedule. The CAG said the engine was yet to be certified.
The armed forces had frozen their technical requirements more than three decades ago.
Limited series production kicked off in 2001. But non-freezing of the ALH design by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), according to the auditor, led to 363 modifications.
The HAL has orders for 159 ALHs from the army and air force. The navy, which has six of the helicopters, has found its anti-submarine warfare capabilities to be inadequate and is looking for a replacement.
"In the absence of a clear understanding between the navy and the company (HAL), the Rs 138 crore spent on the project has not resulted in any benefit to the customer," the CAG report, tabled in Parliament on Thursday, said.