Ecuador government has considered returning advanced light helicopters ‘Dhruv’ to Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) after a court case involving both the sides is settled.
The Ecuador government intends to return due to long-run issue performance of the chopper. There are plans to sell off the helicopters but since the contract between HAL and Ecuador is in place, machines cannot be sold off. "Moreover, legal proceedings are going on," a top HAL official was quoted as saying by The Financial Express Wednesday.
However, HAL acknowledged that it cannot afford proper product support and reasoned that they are the first sale option. In an efforts to improve relations with Ecuador regarding the ‘Dhruv’ helicopters, “HAL has also offered to service three helicopters free of cost which are not in use in Ecuador”. HAL CMD T Suvarna Raju said.
Both the sides had hectic discussion rounds and finally Minister of External Affairs had to involve as the South American country unilaterally cancelled the contract.
Initially this year, Ecuador had terminated the contract when four out of the seven helicopters were crashed, blaming it on their poor quality. Though HAL insisted then that the helicopters were safe, it was earlier this year that former Minister of State (MoS) for defence Rao Inderjit Singh, in response to a question in Parliament, had said India had acted on the complaint notice it had received from Quito (Ecuador capital) and also launched a probe.
Since India is keen on expanding its footprint in the Latin region, it had also offered to government of ecuador to train its pilots. Ecuador was offered the training in the wake of the country having lost 22 commandos in a major crash. They are said to have occurred due to human error.
About 14 military and two civilian Dhruv helicopters have met with accidents since 2002. Out of which 11 took place in India and five abroad. Further, 12, among these 16 accidents, occurred due to human error and environmental factors while four others took place due to technical faults.