The Ecuadorian Air Force has put up its three Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Dhruv helicopters for sale, which it had acquired in 2009 for its utility transport needs (IHS Jane’s).
The announcement was made by the country’s Minister of Defence Ricardo Patiño last week on Thursday.
Ecuador acquired seven Dhruv helicopters from HAL in 2009 under a $45 million U.S. deal.
Since 2009, four of the seven helicopters had succumbed to accidents, which had resulted in the collective deaths of three military personnel. Thus, the Ecuadorian Air Force grounded its Dhruv fleet, and as of last week, it is seeking to sell off its remaining helicopters.
As per the Times of India (TOI), Ecuador also terminated the Dhruv contract it had with HAL.
TOI also noted that two of the crashes were seemingly a result of pilot error, whilst two could be blamed on mechanical failures.
Notes & Comments:The HAL Dhruv has had technical issues, even in India. As of 2016, the Indian Air Force (IAF) grounded its Dhruv fleet three times because of technical issues. Within India, it is not clear if this will be blamed upon HAL in terms of quality control during the production process or from a design standpoint.
With the Kamov Ka-226T scheduled to enter production in India in the medium-term and the Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) progressing through the development pipeline, the Dhruv will no longer be the mainstay light utility helicopter platform, be it for domestic use in India or the export market.
Nonetheless, the Dhruv episode may contribute to the increasingly strong drive to depend on upon India’s private defence players, such as Tata Advanced Systems (TASL), especially in the long-term as primary contractors for major works, such as airframe production.