HAL-Turbomeca sign JV in Paris for Rs 200 crore MRO facility for helicopter engines - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

Home Top Ad


Thursday 18 June 2015

HAL-Turbomeca sign JV in Paris for Rs 200 crore MRO facility for helicopter engines

The military is buying three HAL choppers (including the light combat helicopter above), all powered by the Shakti engine

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 18th June 15

In Paris on Wednesday, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) signed an agreement with French engine manufacturer, Turbomeca, to support the redoubtable Shakti helicopter engine, which would power a fleet of 1,000 Indian military choppers during the coming decade.

HAL’s joint venture (JV) with Turbomeca, long in the making, would support the Bengaluru-headquartered aerospace company’s ambitious vision of becoming a helicopter production giant.

India’s military has already committed to buying three different types of HAL helicopters, all powered by the Shakti engine that Turbomeca custom-designed for HAL. Optimised to fly at extreme altitudes of up to 6,000 metres (almost 20,000 feet), the Shakti engine supports Indian army troops deployed on the Himalayan watershed.

An HAL release announced that the new JV would provide maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) support for the Shakti engine, as well as for the Turbomeca TM333 engine that was initially fitted on the Dhruv ALH while the Shakti was being developed.

While not announced, Business Standard learns that HAL and Turbomeca would have equal shares in the JV, which is slated to come up in Bengaluru for an estimated Rs 200 crore. Meanwhile Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s home state, Goa, is believed to be pitching for the facility to be established there.

“This JV will boost the ‘Make-in-India’ drive, considering the forecast that around 1,000 Shakti engines will be flying in India over the coming years”, announced an HAL press release from the Paris Air Show on Wednesday.

These helicopters include the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), which is already in service in large numbers. With 159 Dhruvs already sanctioned for the military, an order for another 73 is currently being processed.

A second chopper, the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), is at an advanced stage of prototype testing. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has committed to buying 65 LCH, while the army wants 114, adding up to an initial commitment of 179 LCHs.

Two Shakti engines power each Dhruv ALH and LCH. The overall requirement of 411 of these two helicopters would need almost 850 Shakti engines, including some spare engines.

Then there is the Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), which HAL is developing, and expects to fly later this year. The defence ministry has committed to buying 187 LUHs. Each of these light, three-tonne helicopters has a single Shakti engine.

Simultaneously, the defence ministry has cleared a global tender for another 197 reconnaissance and observation helicopters (ROH), to be built in India in partnership with a foreign aerospace vendor. With HAL at an advanced stage of developing the LUH, which has similar specifications to the ROH, top company sources suggest HAL would offer the LUH in this competitive tender.

“Given how much we have indigenized the LUH, and its low cost, it would be hard for a foreign company to bid lower than us in the ROH tender. Remember, foreign vendors would be liable for offsets and would be required to indigenize up to 50 per cent”, says an HAL executive.

HAL plans to build these light helicopters at a new facility on 610 acres that it has bought in Gubbi Taluk, Tumkur District, about 125 km from Bangalore.

Additionally, there could be export orders for several of these helicopters. The Dhruv ALH is already in service in Ecuador and Nepal, and interest has been reported from Malaysia and Indonesia.

Priced at about Rs 44 crore, the Dhruv undercuts rival western helicopters. Increased Shakti production and the new MRO would lower acquisition and operating costs further.


  1. Sir,
    Commissioning of first LCH. is still years away ! ( Still we are producing Technology Demonstrators) Dhruv ( ALH) is very accident prone ! Actually Ecuador ( only export customer) has lost 60% ( four out of seven ) of her fleet in just six years. ( IHS Jane 360 , 27th Jan 2015) Thus HAL. is getting a very bad name in south america.
    The main problem is quality control. If HAL. built machines are not reliable then it will not be able to compete outside India and if Government opens the sector to private joint ventures then HAL. will be another BSNL. or HMT.
    Recently many HAL. built relatively new planes ( less than two years old ) were crashed. Example : Hawk jet on 04th June and more recently Cost guard Dornier.
    There is something really wrong with HAL. and our great pilots are paying with their life. No body seems accountable for this loss !

  2. When HAL is almost ready with it's Light Utility Helicopter, why did the "Make In India" sarkar issue a global tender for 197 similar choppers? Is "make in India" greater than "made in India"?
    As Lalit Modi episode has exposed that when it comes to corruption and crony capitalism, BJP or Modi sarkar is no different than Congress.

  3. Informative.

    Side Note - for the ROH the HAL must not rely on the notion that if the LUH flys well and is light it is the best candidate.The focus must be on its capabilities as well as the armed forces will be looking out for that.

    1. Surveillance Capabilities - In my opinion ROH helicopters must have better sensors, radars, cameras,features like advanced Helmet Mounted display, essentially giving the co pilot a view of all that the surveillance cameras in his helmet, such that he does not appear to be limited by the cockpit at all. The sensors in the cockpit coordinate with the helmet and link it to the movement of various cameras on board the helicopter. De-weaponize if needed.

    The advanced versions of this originally Russian technology is available in western nations and is also the core area of innovation for combat aviation helmet makers around the world.

    2. Superior Data links, an ROH may be flown by the commander or second in command in an aviation fighting unit and therefore must have large displays that are integrated with the (in the works) Battle Field Management System, to plan and communicate movements. What the ROH observes must be able to share what it sees with other friendly units in the battlefield, if possible in, near real time or real time. All this will require a lot of electric power and Data links to better handle the larger than usual information traffic to and fro.

    3. Silence - No point having a small, capable, light and highly maneuverable ROH that is loud as a howling wolf. HAL must invest in Noise reduction technologies. Thankfully, the HAL ALH is not so loud as Mi- 17 or Cheetah (from personal experience) i could only hear it when it was almost on top of us. But if there is potential why not exploit it.

    4. Crew and vital parts protection - with so much life and material invested in helicopters it only makes sense to make it survivable.


  4. @Parthasarathi

    It seems you've very little knowledge about the Pvt sector. WHen it comes to competence or professionalism these family owned Pvt Cos are even far worse then our PSUs. They want to enter defense production without having even a single product to their name. What they're doing is the same lego set like assembling of foreign products for a high price under their brand.
    Forget high tech stuff. ALmost all so called Pvt Cos which ventured into such mundane areas like retail or insurance have failed very miserably. They make money only where they receive monopolistic Govt support.

  5. @Parthasarathi ...Your comment shows the level of ignorance you have on HAL made Dhruvs . Please research a bit on internet then come up with comments and replies. Dhruvs helos or any other helos/ fighter a/c world wide are built in iteration i.e., the present gen Dhruv flying is mk3 and mk4 with more powerful shakti engines , Mk4 is actually the weaponized version which have been inducted to our armed force. So if mk5 version comes , don't whine it to be a TD ..!!

    About Dhruv crash with Ecuadorian AF , the first accident report that came out was because of pilot error. The rest three crash reports are not public , so you can not blame it on the airframe itself, and if you google you will see hepters from reputed manufacturers going down , no one blame the reputation of those manufacturers.

    HAWKS are assembled from CKD units supplied by BAE UK and those hawks are assembled here in HAL are under BAE guarantee , so you should blame BAE and not HAL.

    And @ annoying Annon , please stop the congress rant here.. you don't have even grasp the idea of "made and make in India".

  6. @Parthasarathi ...Answer is simple...corruption,Nepotism and everything else that is synonymous when we utter the word 'Government Servant'

  7. Anonymous@13:13 communist mindset of people like sentinel is the reason for most problems facing India: poverty being number 1 followed by lack of innovation.
    If Hal and other shoddy psu were as good as you claim, India would not be the Number one importer of Foreign Weapons. In what category PSU have made us self reliant? ZERO. Even 75% of our TV transponders are leased from foreign satellites. Wake up and get out of daydreams of Marxism: it doesn't NOT work

  8. @DJEMBE

    Really?? I'm not propagating state controlled economy. Neither am I for crony capitalism which happens to be India's case.
    Name me even one Indian Pvt Company, which excels in innovation or has brand equity beyond India's borders?
    As far as innovation in PSUs are concerned, they've a far better track record than the Pvt sector. Our space, defense and nuclear power companies are few such examples.
    India's poverty is purely due to crony capitalism which leads to a closed economy. Even after declaring "make in India" from the rooftops, why is the Modi sarkar dragging it's feet when it comes to unshackling the Indian economy? WHy any MNC or OEM have to invest in India through some shady grossly incompetent sethji owned company?
    It is Saudi Arabia which is No.1 importer of arms not India. Get your facts correct. Import component is high due to extreme corruption in our military, political bureaucratic setup. WHat was the need to import highly expensive Pilatus, T90, MMRCA etc etc when better and cheaper stuff is available inhouse? Will the import bill be so high if our military favors "made in India" stuff over "make in India"?
    And, the biggest and most successful arms companies are state owned if one goes by Chinese, Russian and even Brazilian examples. Defense manufacturing is capital and R&D intensive with high gestation periods.... something which is 180 degrees opposite to the credo of fly by night Indian baniya companies supported by baniya political parties.
    And my mindset is not communist but nationalist. I do advocate opening up Indian economy 100% which will lead to massive investments leading to creation of high paying jobs which in turn will raise 100s of millions out of poverty. India's poverty is due to deliberate policies of crony capitalism of which both BJP and Congress guilty. Remember, today's India was created by a company called "East India Company". Things have not changed much.

    1. Yes sentinel, really. I have seen you repeating yourself over and over again without even reading the post. You are very communist and if you don't know that then that's an identity crisis for you.
      The only goal of a corporate is to make profit: not innovate/donate/ employ but to make money. You call that cronyism because you don't have a clue about what capitalism is.
      India became more wealthy in last 20 years of capitalist policies than 40 years of socialism that you advocate.
      Yes, India has been top importer of foreign arms very occasionally overthrown by others.
      Again you didn't answer or understand any of the points I raised so I will post them again. In what category PSU have made us self reliant? ZERO. We won't need any import if they were good.

  9. @Unknown

    Like the name you've chosen for yourself, it's you who've not bothered to read my comment before repeating the same question multiple times like a dyslexic patient. What's ISRO, BARC, BHEL, DRDO, HAL, NTPC, IOC, BPCL, GAIL etc etc??
    More wealthy in last 20 years of congress rule?? LOL!! what are you smoking man? Did the percentage of population living below the poverty line recede or increase during the last 20 years or it's even worse than what it was during first 40 years of India since independence??

    1. It is sad to see someone so ignorant like you.
      Read this from UN
      "...although poverty remains widespread in India, progress has been substantial. In India, the poverty rate fell from 49 per cent in 1994 to 42 per cent in 2005 and to 33 per cent in 2010. If the current pace continues, India will meet the poverty reduction target by 2015," UN Secretary-General's Millennium Development Goals report released by UN Information Centre said here.
      I think you need to get education

  10. @Unknown
    Also, you must read your own comment. Profit without innovation/ donation (CSR)/ employment is the credo of crony capitalism. Entrepreneurship is all about innovation and risk taking. The firms you are talking about are not known for innovation or risk taking... their billions come from greasing the palms of corrupt politicians and babus..... the price is ultimately paid by the masses who continue to wallow in poverty due to a closed economy where few have more money than God while 100s of millions live in abject poverty for generations.
    And last but not the least, you've failed to mention any Indian Pvt Company that excel's in innovation or enjoys brand equity beyond India's border?

    1. Again you don't even know the basics of capitalism. Read something please.
      "There is one and only one social responsibility of business -- to increase its profits." -Milton Friedman
      Innovation, efficiency and growth are part of that effort. That is not cronyism dude; that is the capitalism at its core.
      Your hatred for some corporations is absolutely unjustified in to applying it to every corporate in India. L&T/ Wipro/ Dr Reddy / Tata and many more have more respect outside India than any DPSU you keep harping about. Our PSU are laughing stock for rest of the world. None of them would survive a year in private sector.

  11. @Unknown
    Our PSUs first of all were not made to be global brand ambassador. They were made for India to be self reliant in areas where Pvt sector is too weak or incompetent or where we won't get help from abroad.
    Defense of the nation my friend is not similar to selling potato chips to masses. Defense cannot be a means for individuals to mint money. No one should stop such businessmen/ entrepreneurs from investing their own money in building systems which they can compete and sell in the global market. But, is that what is happening in India? Arms exports is a huge source of funds for our politicians who come to power with the sole intention of fleecing the nation as much as they can during their five year rule. Do you think political parties exist to serve the nation?
    This is the reason why Pvt Cos are being roped in defense as they can launder the kickbacks that flow from arms imports under the guise of "make in India". This is the very reason why "make in India" is only limited to defense, where foreign OEMs have to partner with shady companies with no expertise or competence in defense.
    India's population in 1948 was around 350 million and 429 million by your calculation are today living below the poverty line. How many Indian families earn more than 5000 Rs per month? Reality is almost 67% of India lives below poverty line.

    Unlike you, I don't need a UN or Govt report to tell me what poverty is like in India.

    Tata, Wipro, Dr.Reddy or L&T do not have any brand image or equity beyond India's borders.

  12. "Our PSUs first of all were not made to be global brand ambassador. They were made for India to be self reliant in areas where Pvt sector is too weak or incompetent or where we won't get help from abroad."
    And they failed miserably hence the need for private players in defense.
    "Defense of the nation my friend is not similar to selling potato chips to masses."
    Don't talk about defense as if you know a thing about it. You don't. Hence your jib jab on every forum. Are Boeing/Lockheed/ SAAB/Dassault/ L-3/BAE/Thyssen/Northrop private or public? They represent most successful and innovative defense companies in the world. (Hint: they all are private)
    If you don't need any statistical research data that means you are a bigot: unwilling to learn the truth. Unlike most of us who use science for advancement
    If you don't know then don't talk: Tata / Wipro are very very well known outside India.
    You indeed are a pitiful personality


Recent Posts

Page 1 of 10412345...104Next >>Last