Ecuador To Sell Three Remaining HAL Dhruv Helicopters

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Ecuador will sell the three remaining three Dhruv utility helicopters it bought from India’s Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) it purchased between 2009 and 2012.

Ecuador’s Defence Minister Ricardo Patino announced the decision on October 20, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly reported.

Ecuador had bought seven Dhruv from HAL after a hard competition from Elbit, Eurocopter and Kazan for $50.7mn. Ecuador lost four helicopters in crashes and the Ecuadorian government took a decision to ground the rest of the choppers in October last year. It also ended the contract with HAL unilaterally.

Two of the helicopters that crashed are attributed to mechanical problems and getting components for the choppers from India has proved to be problematic.

The other two crashes are linked to pilot errors. One of these helicopters was assigned to transport the Ecuadorian President. He was not on board when the helicopter crashed.

HAL had provided ground support for the choppers in Ecuador. The officials had said that the two choppers that crashed allegedly because of the mechanical defects went down only after the ground support period with Ecuador had ended.

Since 2002, 14 military and 2 civil Indian Dhruv helicopters have been involved in accidents, out of which 11 occurred in India and 5 abroad.

Out of 16 accidents, 12 occurred due to human error & environmental factors and the remaining 4 occurred due to technical reasons, Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh said in the parliament in March this year.

As per notice issued by Ecuador Government, ‘non-compliance of the seller of some of the obligations contracted by virtue of the present contract’ and ‘value of the fines exceeding the amount of guarantee of faithful compliance of the contract’ have been cited as the reasons.

Ecuadorian Defence Minister had been previously quoted by AP as saying that getting the spare parts from India was difficult. However, HAL had insisted that it provided all the spare parts on time and was not provided with any investigative reports that said mechanical failure was the reason behind crashes.