Israel is believed to be close to selecting the Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) Dhruv advanced light helicopter (ALH) in VIP configuration for the transport of senior defence officials.

The pending selection follows a partnership between HAL and Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) on avionics for the export version.

Currently, a deal is being finalised with the Indian defence ministry for the acquisition of IAI avionics-equipped Dhruvs. IAI has been integral to the development of the export version of the ALH and consequently Israel is expected to get the helicopter at a "reasonable price", say sources. The aircraft received its Indian civil certification in December last year, 20 months after the military variant entered service (Flight International, 9-16 December 2003).

HAL and IAI signed a $33 million contract earlier this year under which IAI became the sole avionics supplier for both domestic and export versions of the helicopter.

Under the contract, avionics will be supplied by IAI for 100 advanced light helicopters to begin with. The major systems include electronic warfare package, night vision system, head-up display and other communication systems.

IAI also won the international marketing rights for export ALHs from HAL against competition from Eurocopter. Under the arrangement, IAI will equip the ALH platform with Israeli avionics and other systems for the specific requirements of the international clients.

IAI and HAL carried out joint feasibility studies to export ALH to a number of countries including Bangladesh, Chile, Malaysia, Nepal, the USA and Vietnam. The Indo-Israeli team conducted tests in Chile and found the performance of the ALH satisfactory.



Source: Flight International