Dhruv Helicopter Faces Another Controversy

By admin • September 15th, 2010

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India Defence Online, New Delhi — India’s indigenous “Dhruv” Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) has run into rough weather as the Indian Army has pointed out that the chopper is not giving an optimum level of performance. The Indian Army was to receive 20 “Dhruv” helicopters from the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

The Indian Army has complained that the “Dhruv” ALH cruising speed has declined to 250 kilometres per hour which does not match up to the HAL specification of 270 kilometres per hour. In order to resolve this major glitch and unable to find a solution, HAL has opted for an Italian aerospace firm called Avio to act as a consultant and sort out the problem.

HAL has indicated that despite the inclusion of the “Shakti” engine designed by the French firm Turbomeca, the Integrated Dynamic System (IDS), which transfers power from the “Shakti” engines to the helicopter rotors, is not giving optimum performance. Hence, the cruising speed and the high-altitude capability of “Dhruv” ALH have significantly deteriorated.

According to sources, the Italian firm Avio will be inspecting the IDS which is the root cause of this problem. Firstly, Avio will build a single HAL-designed IDS in Italy with the help of their own components and machinery and conduct test-runs for 400-500 hours. If the IDS runs without a problem, it will be ascertained that the problem lies in HAL’s manufacturing. However, if the IDS fails to perform in the test-run, then it will be evident that the design is flawed and Avio will redesign the IDS.

Currently, the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF) have been flying the “Dhruv” helicopters since they are already short of choppers. There have been complaints that the metal keeps chipping off inside the IDS and HAL has made several changes inside the IDS. HAL has convinced the Armed Forces that there is no imminent or immediate threat or danger while flying the ‘Dhruv” choppers as there is a monitoring system which detects the metal chips in the oil.

HAL has been criticised for the hasty development of the “Dhruv” ALH which has led to these shortcomings. Despite the repeated suggestions by the Armed Forces to make design changes, HAL overlooked many details and operationalised the “Dhruv” ALH before consistent test-runs to stabilise the design and performance of the helicopter. Due to these shortcomings, the Italian firm Avio will be auditing HAL’s facility and practices and will identify its procedural problems and scrutinise its work ethics.

Last year, the Indian Army and the IAF placed an order of 159 helicopters with HAL which are to be supplied by 2015. Of these, 83 are utility helicopters called Dhruv Mark 3 which will be used for transporting people. The other 76 are Mark 4 helicopters, which will be fitted with rockets, missiles and electronic warfare equipment.

Source: India Defence Online

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