This is in addition to the five Dhruv Mk. 3 helicopters delivered
to the service during the just-concluded Aero India 2011 symposium,
which marked the first deliveries in a total order of 159 advanced
Dhruv variants. HAL says the rest of the helicopters will be delivered
in phases over the next five years.
“There were issues with the shortage of spares, which put the brakes on
the production activities,” a senior HAL official says. “We have
overcome the crisis, and the production plan has picked up momentum
now. Ten Dhruvs for the Indian air force also will be handed over
The Mk. 3 variants are powered by Shakti turboshaft engines developed
by HAL and Turbomeca. The helicopter underwent high-altitude trials in
Mk. 3 sports a new electronic warfare suite, advanced laser warning
systems, missile warning systems and electro-optical pods. It has a
new-generation vibration-control system in place along with the glass
cockpit. It also has an automatic chaff-and-flare dispenser,” the official says.
“The Indian air force versions will be tested by pilots from Aircraft System and Testing Establishment,” he adds. “We will also roll
out the Mk. 4 variants of Dhruv during the 2011-12 period.”
The subject of frequent criticism from Indian media and audit agencies,
the Dhruv seems to have finally come of age thanks to strong management
principles put in place at HAL’s Helicopter Complex. Insiders say that
new computer-aided design and manufacturing features at the production
lines, user feedback, and the establishment of a separate maintenance,
repair and overall facility have all helped the program.