Pak Snipes Indian Dhruvs In Ecuador

The Pakistan government, through its press service (Associated Press of Pakistan), has made a stinging attack on HAL's flagship export, the Dhruv helicopter, suggesting that the small fleet that India sold to Ecuador a few years ago are now "beset with problems", including low availability, expensive spares, faulty after-sales service and over-invoicing by HAL. HAL hasn't responded officially just yet, but will shortly. See what you make of the Pak release. (A HAL source I spoke to said the tenor of the report "almost definitely" suggested a U.S. plant, with the APP a willing vessel). Anyway, here it is in full:

ISLAMABAD, July 27 (APP) - Ecuadorian Air Force (EAF) which inducted seven Indian manufactured Dhruv helicopters, at a package cost of $50 millions, is finding itself beset with problems even as the last consignment of two helicopters has barely arrived in the country. According to the aviation sources, one of the inducted Dhruv helicopters crashed last year while two others have been grounded on account of malfunctioning of over-speed management unit (OMU).

While the Ecuadorian Air Force is plagued by Dhruv related maintenance issues, its difficulties have been compounded by exorbitant repair cost demanded by Indian manufacturers. The original US company that manufactures the OMU, charges $100m000 as the repair cost while the Indians have demanded $250,000 for the same job.

India has also raised the price of two additional Dhruvs that the EAF had originally planned as additional follow through acquisitions; demanding $12 million apiece. The EAF has informed the Indian government that because of cost issues, maintenance problems, under par flight performance and poor post sale spare support it is considering cancelling further orders for induction of Dhruv helicopters.

According to observers the disappointing Ecuadorian experience with the Dhruv Helicopters doesn’t augur well for the Indian efforts to find a toe hold in South American countries for its aviation products.

It is bound to have its negative fallout as other South American governments; Columbia, Brazil and Chile, who were contemplating induction of Dhruv helicopters in their respective air forces, are now certain to revisit such plans.

Dhruv is not only accident prone, overly priced and having maintenance support issues, it also comes with the Indian tendency of creating dependence and over invoicing, which make even costlier options from other countries more palatable, say observers.

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