In what could dent India's efforts to export military hardware, Ecuador has unilaterally terminated a contract with state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) that sold its Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters (ALHs) to the country.
Following an order from the Ecuadorian Air Force for seven Dhruvs, HAL had delivered five in 2009, and the rest by 2012. However, out of the seven, only two have survived (now being grounded) while the rest were lost in crashes.
Though some of the crashes have been attributed to pilot errors, Ecuadorian Defence Minister Fernando Cordero is reported to have said that the two helicopter crashes were due to mechanical problems and the country faced problems getting spare parts.
According to him, HAL failed to ship the parts, for a deal valued at $45.2 million.
HAL officials told NDTV that they have not yet received any official word on the contract's cancellation. IHS Jane's quoted a senior HAL official as saying, "Dhruv helicopters were 'exclusively' the FAE's responsibility, as the 24-month warranty period for HAL to provide after-sales service support for the seven platforms had long expired."
It must be seen if Indian government will step in to address the complaints relating to it.
Notwithstanding this, Indian armed forces use about 200 of this utility helicopter, which has proven its worth in high altitude operations, operating during Kedarnath floods in search and rescue (SAR) missions.
Apart from Ecuador, Druv is operational in Maldives, Nepal and Mauritius.