Indian Navy Rejects HAL Designed Advanced Light Helicopters

The Indian Navy has rejected the contract for Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The Indian Navy believes that that Advanced Light Helicopters by HAL does not meet its requirement and that there is a dire need to establish alternative capability in the private sector to manufacture modern choppers.

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A report by Economic Times states the naval version of the ALH that is being offered does not meet basic qualitative requirements and is unsuitable for the role required, including urgent Search and Rescue (SAR) missions at sea.

The ALH has a rigid rotor head and has been designed for high altitude operations. The problem is that the design limits it in terms of the blade folding capability. In missions such as SAR, every minute is precious and the ALH just takes too much time to be deployed,” a source said.

While the navy is already operating the ALH in a utility role, it requires 111 helicopters for deployment onboard ships to carry out multiple roles, including surveillance and ferrying supplies. The requirement is urgent and a specialised chopper is needed that can be quickly deployed and retrieved and can be stored in the space-constrained hangar on board all vessels.

The process to acquire the choppers is already in advanced stages with four Indian companies shortlisted who can partner with a foreign technology provider to make the helicopters domestically.

However, ever since HAL entered the fray, the final decision has been delayed. In the original tender document, it was specified that only private sector companies are eligible to take part in the contest.

ET quoting its sources said that there is a need to have the capacity in the private sector too for manufacturing modern aircraft and the Navy Utility Helicopter (NUH) programme will enable the identified winner to procure technology and skills.

Besides the navy requirement, the winning company will have a large domestic civilian market to tap, besides a robust export potential.  The contract is worth 21,000 crore rupees and is line with the Make in India Initiative of the Narendra Modi government.