Wednesday, March 09, 2011

HAL To Deliver More Dhruv Mk. 3 Helicopters

Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) soon will hand over five Mk. 3 versions of the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) to the Indian army.This is in addition to the five Dhruv Mk. 3 helicopters delivered to the service during the just-concluded Aero India 2011 symposium, which marked the first deliveries in a total order of 159 advanced Dhruv variants. HAL says the rest of the helicopters will be delivered in phases over the next five years.
“There were issues with the shortage of spares, which put the brakes on the production activities,” a senior HAL official says. “We have overcome the crisis, and the production plan has picked up momentum now. Ten Dhruvs for the Indian air force [also] will be handed over soon.”
The Mk. 3 variants are powered by Shakti turboshaft engines developed by HAL and Turbomeca. The helicopter underwent high-altitude trials in 2009. “The Mk. 3 sports a new electronic warfare suite, advanced laser warning systems, missile warning systems and electro-optical pods. It has a new-generation vibration-control system in place along with the glass cockpit. It also has an automatic chaff-and-flare dispenser,” the official says.
“The [Indian air force] versions will be tested by pilots from [the] Aircraft System and Testing Establishment,” he adds. “We will also roll out the Mk. 4 variants of Dhruv during [the] 2011-12 period.”
The subject of frequent criticism from Indian media and audit agencies, the Dhruv seems to have finally come of age thanks to strong management principles put in place at HAL’s Helicopter Complex. Insiders say that new computer-aided design and manufacturing features at the production lines, user feedback, and the establishment of a separate maintenance, repair and overall facility have all helped the program.

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