Bangalore: Military plane maker Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, or HAL, expects to sell its Dhruv advanced light helicopter to countries such as Jordan, Peru and Bolivia by October, and plans to build a repair hub in Ecuador to serve customers in Latin America.
In June, Bangalore-based HAL concluded its first export deal to sell seven of the choppers to Ecuador for $51 million (Rs218 crore), followed by another win this month from Turkey for three.
“We are continuing to go forward. We should have (total) orders for 16-18 helicopters in two months,” said Ashok Baweja, chairman of HAL.
The sales mark the first large-scale exports of an Indian defence product. Dhruv, named after the pole star, is a 5.5-tonne helicopter indigenously designed by HAL. It is powered by two engines made by Turbomeca, a unit of France’s Safran Group. HAL is working on an armed version of Dhruv, equipped with missiles and guns, which is awaiting certification.
Analysts say India’s aggressive push for a viable arms export policy, guided by a 2002 committee led by former minister of state for defence Arun Singh, is paying off.
“This is the beginning; other products could also come up in future,” said Deba R. Mohanty, senior fellow for security studies at the Observer Research Foundation, a New Delhi-based think tank.
HAL is designing the intermediate jet trainer, or IJT, and is the manufacturing agency for Tejas, the light combat aircraft, both under development and viewed as potential export products.
HAL will open a repair hub and marketing office in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, to sell more helicopters in Latin America. “It would be a hub for our foreign operations,” said Baweja.
The plane maker has delivered 70 Dhruv helicopters to the armed forces. It has an order for 159 more of the helicopters from the armed forces and the home ministry to be supplied in five years.