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The Complete Inside Story OF “Indigenous” Dhruv/ALH—–Special Report

From the design to the provision of components and ammunition the
involvement of foreign companies in the development of the ALH is
considerable. At least 29 companies in nine countries across four
continents have been involved with the development, licensed production
or supply of components or munitions for the ALH. Ten of these companies
are based in six EU Member States (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy,
Sweden and the UK). Other companies involved include a number based in
Israel and the USA. Since its inception, the ALH has been a
collaborative effort between the German company Messerschmitt-Bölkow
Blohm (now Eurocopter Deutschland) and HAL:

“One thing should be clear. Though it is India’s, if not Asia’s, first
de novodesigned helicopter, it is not ‘indigenous’ in the Indian sense
of the term, but a collaborative effort of HAL and specialists from
Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm, who built the Eurocopter, which the Advanced
Light Helicopter resembles.”

It is not clear what configuration of armaments and components will be
incorporated into the variants of any ALHs that might eventually be
exported to Myanmar, but it is incumbent on governments to ensure that
components produced or otherwise originating from within their
jurisdiction are not incorporated into military helicopters transferred
to Myanmar. The section below provides illustrative examples of key
foreign involvement in the development of the ALH.

Core foreign components for the ALH include helicopter engines and rotor
blades, as well as hydraulics, cockpit displays, vibration dampers and
other “mission-critical parts”. In addition, European firms have
contributed to the offensive military capability of the attack
helicopter version: variants of the ALH have incorporated rocket
launchers of Belgian origin, and machine guns and missiles of French

European and US firms have been involved in designing and developing the
aircraft and its components. As a consequence — not least with major
structural components like engines and rotors — it would be difficult,
if not impossible, for HAL to source adequate alternative components
from non-European or non-US suppliers. Similarly it may be difficult for
HAL to manufacture such components itself without technical support
from those firms.

Letters were faxed to each of the companies mentioned in this report,
noting the reports that the Government of India was in negotiations with
the Government of Myanmar to supply the ALH, and requesting information
about their involvement in the development of the ALH through the
manufacture and supply of components, technology and/or assistance. The
letters also asked about the terms of the licences under which such
transfers were made, including any restrictions applied to re-export.

Many of the companies’ responses summarised below specifically state
that the contracts conform to their government’s requirements.
Nevertheless, should such transfers of the ALH from India go ahead over
the coming months, it is likely that military equipment, components and
technology supplied from EU and US manufacturers incorporated into the
ALH will end up in an embargoed destination. There is no suggestion that
these companies will have broken current laws or regulations or
deliberately violated the EU arms embargo on Myanmar. However, in almost
all of these cases, the exports would not have been permitted from the
country where the controlling company is based if they were supplied
direct to Myanmar.


The following section illustrates the scale of involvement of non-Indian companies in the design.

The European Union


Forges de Zeebrugge FZ

Variants of the ALH have incorporated rocket launchers produced by the
Belgiam company, Forges de Zeebrugge FZ.For example, the photo below
shows the FZ nameplate on the rocket launcher mounted on ALH on display
at Farnborough International, UK on 14 August 2006.


Forges de Zeebrugge FZ confirmed that they have contracts with both HAL
and the Indian Army, which have been approved by the Belgian authorities
and are subject to end-use agreements. Confidentiality clauses
contained within the contract prevented fuller disclosure of any details
surrounding the nature of the deal.



The French company Turbomeca (now part of the Safran Group) has
undertaken both the direct export of engines from France to India but
has also established licensed production and technology transfer
arrangements with HAL to produce engines for the ALH. In February 2003,
it was announced that Turbomeca and HAL had signed three major
contracts. These included a contract for the supply of TM 333 2B2
engines for application on the HAL helicopter; and another contract for
the repair and overhaul licence for the TM 333 2B2. The HAL website
states that the ALH continues to use the “Turbomeca TM 333-2B2 Twin
Turbo-shaft Engine 746 kw (1000 SHP)”.

Turbomeca confirmed that it has three contracts with HAL, two of which
cover the supply, repair, servicing and overhaul of the TM333-2B2
engines for the ALH. The company also stated that all its contracts were
regulated by the appropriate French export licensing authorities.
However in its response to our enquiries the French Government stated
that the engines in question are not classified as war material by the
French regulations and do not appear in the list of items subject to the
Myanmar embargo. In our view, this interpretation is wrong because
non-listed items in the EC Dual Use Regulation if incorporated into
military items bound for embargoed destinations become licensable, that
is subject to the embargo (for more on this see the section on EU export
controls on re-exports over military equipmentbelow).

It would
therefore appear that the French Government places no restrictions on
the transfer of equipment fundamental to the operation of the ALH
notwithstanding the fact that it is clearly also used as a military

GIAT Industries (Nexter) and MBDA

In July 2006 defence news service Shepherd Rotorhub quoted Hindustan

Aeronautics’ chairman Ashok Baweja describing a weaponisation programme
was under way for the ALH. This was to include a 20mm gun from the
French company GIAT and rockets from European missile manufacturer
MBDA. In December 2006, GIAT (now renamed Nexter) announced that it
had been awarded a contract by HAL for:

“the supply of 20 THL 20 turrets that will equip the Indian Armed
Forces’ Advanced Light Helicopter. The order covers the development
phase of 20 turrets. The first deliveries will take place in 2008….”

In March 2007 Jane’s Information Group reported that HAL signed a deal
with MBDA in July 2006 for the supply of air-to-air Mistral missiles for
armed versions of the ALH.

Nexter has confirmed that it does supply products to HAL for the ALH.
This currently includes twenty ‘THL 20’ 20mm Helicopter turrets. The
company also stated that all of its exports are regulated and approved
by the appropriate French export licensing authorities and that any
additional contracts to supply the ALH that were not stipulated in the
original contract would require a further export licence.


Eurocopter Deutschland (formerly MBB) and now wholly owned by Eurocopter

Eurocopter has been involved (originally as MBB) with the development of
the ALH since at least July 1984. In November 1995, it was reported
that Eurocopter had submitted a proposal to the Indian Defence Ministry
to “co-produce the ALH designed by HAL. It plans to set up production
facilities in India to manufacture the ALH for both local and export
markets.”In 2006 both companies were advertising their mutual
co-operation: Eurocopter noting that it was supplying rotor blades for
the ALH, and HAL announcing that “Eurocopter, the helicopter
manufacturer owned by EADS, has been cooperating with HAL for over four
decades … India was the first nation with which Eurocopter signed a
licence agreement for technology transfer.” Amnesty International
wrote to Eurocopter in March 2007 asking for clarification over its role
in the development of the ALH. As of 25 June 2007, the company had not

SITEC Aerospace

SITEC Aerospace manufactures a range of components and complete
assemblies for flight/engine controls for various types of aircraft.
According to company literature on display at Farnborough International
2006, SITEC provides components for the ALH.

SITEC Aerospace confirmed that they supply parts for the ALH, but that
they do not export these directly to HAL, but supply them to another
unnamed German manufacturer who subsequently incorporates these items
into other systems for the ALH.


Elettronica Aster SpA

The Italian company Elettronica Aster SpA on its website describes HAL
as a major customer. According to the “Company and Program Overview”,
Elettronica Aster SpA has produced and supplied the ALH with a brake

Amnesty International wrote to Elettronica Aster SpA in March 2007 to
ask for clarifications as to its involvement in the development of the
ALH. In its reply dated 15 March, the company had no comment on the
specifics of its supply of components for the ALH, stating only that
Elettronica Aster SpA’s “export activity is regulated by the rules
called out in the Italian Law no.185/’90 (with amendment DDL 1927),
establishing the regulation for weapons import/export/transit.”


Saab AB

Saab Avitronics, the South African joint venture company owned by Saab
AB (Sweden) and Saab Grintek (South Africa, itself part owned by Saab
AB), has been awarded a multi-million dollar export contract from HAL
for the supply of self-protection equipment for installation on the ALH
for the Indian Armed Forces.

Amnesty International wrote to Saab AB on 1 June 2007 asking for
clarification over its involvement with the ALH. Saab AB replied saying:
“All export approvals from the concerned authorities are in place. The
export licences are supported by an end-user certificate.”

The United Kingdom

APPH Precision Hydraulics

At the 2004 Farnborough arms fair, the UK company APPH Precision
Hydraulics Ltd displayed its Hydraulic Package as the following:

“HAL Advanced Light Helicopter Hydraulic Package designed and manufactured by APPH Ltd”

Amnesty International wrote to in March 2007 to ask for clarifications
as its involvement in the development of the ALH. As of 25 June 2007,
the company had not responded.

FPT Industries Ltd

In 1993 it was reported that FPT Industries Ltd had been awarded a
contract to supply floatation equipment for the ALH under development by
HAL. FTP Industries is part of GKN Aerospace Services Ltd. In 1997,
it was reported that FPT Industries’ self-sealing fuel tank systems
were being used in the ALH. In 2007, the FPT Industries website
stated that: “FPT equipment is fitted to a range of helicopters
including ALH”.

In 1997, the then GKN Westland Aerospace Ltd (renamed GKN Aerospace
Services Ltd in 2001) was awarded a contract to supply the internal
gearbox BR715 for HAL’s ALH.

GKN Aerospace Services Ltd confirmed that they have supplied fuel tanks,
floatation equipment and related gaskets and seals for the ALH, but
that these are subject to end-use certificates stipulating that they
would not be re-exported. The company stated that future supplies for
the ALH would be for components and kits for fuel tanks that would be
assembled locally in India, but would again be subject to similar
end-use undertakings. However, while the UK Government normally
requires the presentation of end-use documentation as part of the
licensing process, it does not as a rule then include explicit end-use
restrictions as a conditionon the export licence. If this is the case in
this instance, what force those end-use undertakings have is unclear.

Other third-country involvement in the ALH:

The United States

It should be noted that the US embargo on Myanmar does not specifically
mention indirect supplies, nor does it place controls on civilian
components that are incorporated into military systems. However,
indirect supplies of US military components or other controlled items
are subject to re-export controls under the US International Traffic in
Arms Regulations (ITAR) system which specifically states that re-export
of US-controlled content can only take place with the express permission
of the US Government. Section 123.9 “Country of ultimate destination”
provides that:

“(a) The country designated as the country of ultimate destination on an
application for an export licence, or on a shipper’s export declaration
where an exemption is claimed under this subchapter, must be the
country of ultimate end-use. The written approval of the Department of
State must be obtained before reselling, diverting, transferring,
transshipping, or disposing of a defense article in any country other
than the country of ultimate destination as stated on the export
licence, or on the shipper’s export declaration in cases where an
exemption is claimed under this subchapter. Exporters must ascertain the
specific end-use and end-user prior to submitting an application to the
Office of Munitions Control or claiming an exemption under this
subchapter. End-use must be confirmed and should not be assumed.”

However, it is not clear whether components supplied by US companies for
the ALH have been specifically designed or adapted for military use. If
not, they may fall outside this specification.

Aitech Systems Ltd

In September 2005, it was reported that Aitech Systems Ltd, a US
company, had announced it had “received the first production order from
the Lahav Division of Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) for Display &
Mission Computers” for inclusion in the glass cockpit of the ALH. The
Lahav Division of IAI is under contract to HAL to develop and provide
the avionics system for the HAL.

Deliveries for the first production of Display and Mission Computers were due to be completed by May 2006:

“Aitech will build 400 Display & Mission Computers for the ALH
program, to be delivered over the next several years. In addition,
Aitech is under contract to IAI to provide the next generation of
Display & Mission Computer.”

Amnesty International wrote to the company in March 2007 asking for
clarifications over its involvement with the ALH, but has yet to receive
a reply (as of 25 June 2007).

Lord Corporation

In January 2004, it was reported that Lord Corporation had announced
that it had been “awarded the first production contract for its active
vibration control system” for the ALH. Lord Corporation had been
supplying other parts (such as elastomeric bearings) for the main tail
rotor and parts for various “isolators”, which together formed part of
an anti-resonance isolator system aimed at reducing vibrations in the
aircraft.” The report also stated that “Lord would supply the vibration
dampers for these aircraft with user approvals.”

  • Ali

    Is it any surprise, India's as a joke of a country always keep surprising us and not in a good way. Their "scientists" are not only usually malnourished and very poor. They lacked nutrition while in the womb. This must have stunted the brains of these people. The Pakistani mind will always be superior to the Indian pea brain.

  • Anonymous

    any ways IED Mubarak to all ya pakis …hehehe