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Aero India 2023

HAL to deliver first Dhruv to Ecuador

Dhruv at the Aero India 2009, Bangalore. BNS photo

BANGALORE (BNS): Dhruv Advanced Light helicopters will have a new name. Painted in black, Dhruvs parked at the tarmac of the Yelahanka air base here bear the name Cobra. The helicopters will be delivered to Ecuador during Aero India.

India had bagged the contract to supply seven Dhruvs to the Latin American country last year. The delivery is being made now when the keys would be officially handed over to Ecuador. It is a first for Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, the manufacturer of the helicopter. It won the contract in a competitive bidding where some of the major helicopter manufacturers were in fray like Eurocopter.

The officials said that Dhruv's competitors were not able to match its price. Each aircraft will cost Ecuador $7 million. The helicopters would be moved to Ecuador in a special Antonov-124 transport aircraft hired by HAL. The transportation itself will cost substantial amount.

Some other Latin American countries are closely following the Ecuador deal. Chile and Colombia are the next potential buyers, claimed officials.

“We are now very comfortable with supporting the Dhruv, wherever it is flying,” asserts Ashok Nayak, managing director of HAL's Bangalore Complex. The Dhruv assembly line in HAL Bangalore is occupied in meeting the orders for Indian army. HAL now has a separate helicopter division. The defence public sector undertaking is keen to expand its helicopter operations. It is keen to supply more light aircraft to army, navy and air force. Dhruvs will also perform during Aero India displaying flight capabilities. IAF's helicopter display team Sarang comprising Dhruvs has already performed in various air shows across the world. The officials said the Ecuador sale has come at the right time. The rotor wing helicopter can be used in various roles including air ambulance, surveillance and patrol.

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