In a major setback to India's ongoing efforts to market its Advanced Light Helicopters Dhruv worldwide, Israel has decided to ground the fleet of ALHs it inducted to ferry VIPs and defence officials, barely weeks after the Indian armed forces did the same following a crash.
Israel Aircraft Industries, which provided the avionics system for the international version of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited's ALH and has a joint marketing agreement of the product, said that "it operates in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions and Civil Aviation Authority's regulations," hinting at a possible HAL decision to withdraw.
Earlier this month, the Indian Armed Forces had decided to ground the ALHs following a technical advisory issued by the HAL after a Dhruv chopper crashed in Andhra Pradesh. While efforts are on to promote the worldwide sale of the helicopter, the reports of the crash due to a severe malfunction seems to have forced the manufacturers to redesign the copter's tail, a defence source here said.
"The technical problems can complicate marketing efforts", they said. The Israeli security establishment had used Dhruv to transport officials on several occasions during the past seven months.Dhruv is a multi-role, multi-mission new generation helicopter in the 5.5 tonne weight class. It had set a new world record by flying at an altitude of around 8,000 meters in the Himalayan mountain ridge.