Government-owned defence manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is likely to bag an order from the Armed Forces Medical Services Corps for 12 advanced light helicopter (ALH) flying ambulances.
The choppers, which will have to be delivered in FY2007-08, could fetch the company up to Rs420 crore.
The medics are satisfied with the performance of the ALH ambulances, which will have all emergency medical equipment required for the treatment of injured soldiers. No tenders were floated for the deal as the ALH was developed specially for the Indian armed forces, company sources indicated.
HAL introduced the ALH in 2002, and there is huge demand for its civilian version.
The company has already sold five civilian ALHs globally, including two to the public sector Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), which is to acquire a third Dhruv copter soon.
It has also received orders for one civilian ALH from the Geological Survey of India (GSI), and two from the Jharkhand government. The company expects a large number of orders to come from state governments and the paramilitary forces.
An ALH chopper costs around Rs30 to 35 crore. Civilian variants can be customised to accommodate between 4 to 14 seats. They can also be fitted with a toilet, a galley, executive seating and a work desk, said HAL sources.
ONGCs Dhruv civilian choppers have five seats and space for a stretcher, for evacuation. One copter is stationed at Hazira in Assam for casualty evacuation and for search and rescue operations, while the second is used by the company in Delhi for VIP movements.