MILITARY | UTILITY
The indigenous Dhruv advanced light helicopter received a thumbs-up from India’s Air Force chief, who flew the newly engined version of the aircraft in mid-November and called it a "beautiful machine."
Air Marshal Fali Homi Major flew — from the co-pilot’s seat — Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.’s new armed version of Dhruv, which uses the more powerful Shakti engine that that manufacturer developed with Turbomeca. The 1,200-shp Shakti is a version of Turbomeca’s Ardiden powerplant. Plans call eventually for 80 percent of the Shakti to be made in India.
The armed Dhruv first flew August 17, 2007.
Chief of India’s air staff, Major is a proponent of greater development of indigenous aerospace capability within India. Late last year, speaking at a conference on helicopter technology in HAL’s headquarters town of Bangalore, he urged Indians not to lose sight of "an urgent need for total indigenization and self-reliance in defense in today’s world of sanctions and threats," adding "total indigenization is the need of the hour."
Some Indian military officials have criticized the Dhruv for lacking the reliability and capability needed for military operations. The Navy, for instance, is seeking international alternatives to the Dhruv for anti-submarine warfare helicopter.