Aug 9, 2014
IAF grounds Dhruv fleet following crash
Comprehensive checks are to be conducted on all of the twin-engine ALHs before they resume operations.
Flight data recorder of the crashed Dhruv had been recovered from the accident site, and sent to its manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), for analysis.
India's military operates some 140 Dhruvs, which have been built by HAL since 2002. On 19 July the Indian Ministry of Defence's Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved the purchase of 32 additional Dhruvs for the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard.
Since its induction into service over a decade ago, the entire ALH fleet has been grounded several times due to technical problems, stemming principally from limited engine power in its deployment at altitudes above 4,800 m in the Himalayan regions. The IAF operates ALH support missions to sustain Indian Army formations deployed in this inhospitable mountainous region.
Two Dhruvs, have recently gone down in Siachen - in August 2013 and in March this year - and two of seven sold to the Ecuadorian Air Force in 2008 have also crashed.
Meanwhile, Defence Ministeris scheduled to reconsider the long-awaited procurement of 197 light utility helicopters for the IAF and Army Aviation Corps (AAC.
The LUH programme, under which 133 platforms are earmarked for the AAC and 64 for the IAF, is aimed at replacing the Chetak (licence-built Aerospatiale Alouette III) and Cheetah (licence-built Aerospatiale SA 315B Lama) helicopters inducted into service more than four decades ago.
Eurocopter's AS550 Fennec platform is pitted against Russia's Kamov Ka-226 Sergei model in the LUH acquisition. However, the procurement - pending for over a decade - currently stands deferred as it is under federal investigation over corruption charges.
The acquisition was previously cancelled in 2007 following allegations of wrongdoing in the selection procedure.