Bangalore: After persistent efforts at marketing the indigenously developed Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) India's aerospace giant, the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has finally secured a confirmed order from the South American nation of Peru. This mountain country has placed an order for two Dhruv's, as the ALH is known, in a heli-ambulance version.
The 5.5-tonne Dhruv will be used by the country's health services and will be sold at a price of Rs40 crore apiece. This, according to industry sources, is about 10-15 per cent lower than comparable machines in this class.
The Peruvian order will also be the first international civilian order for HAL.
According to HAL sources, the interior of the ambulance version of the Dhruv will be created in Europe. The work will be performed by firms that specialise in doing interiors and supplying accessories that are typically required by heli-ambulances.
HAL is seeking European expertise as currently such specialisation is not available at home.
HAL's earlier attempt to supply Dhruv helicopters to Myanmar and Chile failed to come through on account of political pressure or competitor lobbying. HAL had made a determined attempt to sell Dhruv to Chile, which had extensively tested the helicopter, when lobbying by the US government in favour of Bell Helicopter's 412 made the Chileans change their mind.
HAL lost the contract despite the price advantage offered by it. HAL sources say that the Dhruv's clear price advantage over the Bell 412 and the Eurocopter, along with the efficiency of its design and functioning is now translating into customer inquiries. It says that over the past year it has received inquiries from the air forces of 35 different countries, along with requests for demonstrations.
The Dhruv is available in different configurations and is easily adaptable for any role. By the end of the year, the Indian Army is set to take delivery of an armed version of the the ALH.
By the end of last year the Army had already taken delivery of over 75 helicopters.
Another 10 are in service with civilian customers.