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India to look for buyers for ALH at Aero India

Dhruvs in formation. Ministry of Defence image

NEW DELHI (BNS): India will look to hard sell its Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv. The ball will be set rolling when Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) delivers seven Dhruvs to Ecuador.

The helicopter is being aggressively marketed in Latin America and a number of countries have shown keen interest in the product. HAL had got the contract from Ecuador last year and it has kept the delivery on time. The 5.5 tonne helicopters were sold for $51 million. The helicopters were delivered in semi-knocked down condition within 15 months of signing the contract. Dhruv was preferred by Ecuador over others like Eurocopter and Elbit.

Officials said the company was looking for more buyers and Aero India will be the perfect forum to showcase the product. HAL has been taking Dhruv to several air shows all over the world where IAF's helicopter aerobatic team Sarang carries out flying displays. Sarang flies Dhruvs.

HAL plans to put up five new Dhruvs at display during Aero India. Other HAL aircraft and helicopters on display at the event include --one Hawk in flying display, Intermediate Jet Trainer, ALHs (one in flying display, one with glass cockpit in static display and one civil ALH) and one DO-228 in Maritime Reconnaissance and Intelligence Warfare (MRIW) role.

Officials claimed that HAL has the potential to become a flagship brand of the company. Apart from Ecuador, the helicopter has been sold to Peru. It was flown to Latin America in the past after the country had shown keen interest in buying it.

The helicopter is being flown extensively in India. It is part of the army aviation which is already flying around 75 helicopters. The naval version is also being developed. The HAL recently demonstrated the armed version of HAL which is undergoing flight trials. The armed version will also be displayed at Aero India.

The officials said that several queries have flowed in about the helicopter essentially from third world countries as the aircraft is cheaper compared to what others in its category were offering.

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