Navy plans to ditch Dhruv helicopters
The Indian Navy has virtually written off the naval variant of the advanced light helicopter (ALH), Dhruv, saying it has failed to meet basic operational requirements. The navy, which operates a fleet of six ALHs, has decided against placing further orders with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
A senior navy official told HT, “The ALH has a long way to go before the programme matures sufficiently for it to undertake basic naval roles such as search and rescue (SAR) and communication duties.” He said the helicopter’s ASW (anti-submarine warfare) version developed by HAL still falls short of naval expectations.
Navy officials said that the ALH lacks the desired endurance for mission requirements. The navy is also not satisfied with the chopper’s rotor blade folding mechanism for storage on warships and its payload capacity. The navy has launched a global hunt for new ASW helicopters to replace its ageing fleet of Sea King helicopters.
However, HAL remains buoyant about domestic helicopter sale prospects with the defence ministry entrusting it with the task of developing light utility helicopters for the army and the air force. The ministry has allocated Rs 435 crore for this. The defence public sector undertaking is focusing aggressively on the helicopter business and plans to set up a new helicopter division in Bangalore.