Tarmak007 -- A bold blog on Indian defence: Saving the Dhruv: Top HAL official emails Tarmak007 in a response to CAG observations on ALH

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Saving the Dhruv: Top HAL official emails Tarmak007 in a response to CAG observations on ALH


Here’s the detailed response by a senior HAL official, to an email sent by Tarmak007, following the CAG's critical observations on ALH. The sentences in red are the responses and some are left blank as the source didn't want to answer the same. 
CAG observations:

CAG: Despite more than two decades, the technical requirements finalised in 1979 by Army and Air Force were not fully achieved resulting in flying of the 74 ALH supplied by the Company to defence customers with concessions.
Reply to Tarmak007 by an HAL source:   The requirements were very demanding. The requirement to land at 20000 ft with 200 kg payload is something no helicopter in the world met till Dhruv with Shakti engine came in. The services also need to temper their requirements based on reach of available technology and expertise.  Now, finally with Shakti we meet all the requirements with very minor exceptions.

CAG: Taking up Limited Series Production (LSP) of ALH (2001-2003) even while the
prototypes were being flight tested (1992-2003) and certified, was premature as
large number of design problems were encountered during the manufacturing.

Reply to Tarmak007 by an HAL source:   Taking up LSP was OK but we should have stopped there and waited for feed backs.  But again it was a first time for HAL, now we have better experience.
CAG: By not freezing the design of ALH and keeping the development stage open the Company had to accommodate the increasing demand of the customer for latest and additional requirements. This led to 363 modifications in 34 helicopters (total 74 supplied to Defence customers).

Reply by HAL source:   I think HAL should be commended for taking it on themselves to improve the product even most were non-flight safety critical.
CAG: The ALH, which was to be successor to Cheetah/Chetak was found to be unsuitable for the intended multi-role requirements due to excess weight and limited power of the engine. ALH with ‘Shakti’ (higher-powered engine) which was planned to be certified in December 2006 is yet to be certified even after a delay of three years resulting in postponement of delivery schedule of 20 ALH with Shakti engine from 2008-09 to 2009-10.

Reply to Tarmak007 by an HAL source:   ALH carries far more than Chetak/Cheetah and it is a heavier class of chopper.
CAG:  Weapon system integration (WSI) version of ALH has not been developed even after a lapse of 10 years (1998 to 2009). In the absence of clear understanding of the requirements between Navy and the Company, the amount of Rs. 138 crore spent on the project has not resulted in any tangible benefit to the customer.

Reply to Tarmak007 by an HAL source:  Navy is not interested in purchasing WSI Dhruv.

CAG:  The Company could not penetrate into the international market in the absence of international certificate in spite of showcasing ALH in the air shows. The Company could not successfully execute even the orders received from civil market.

Reply to Tarmak007 by an HAL source:  Dhruv is flying in Ecuador, Mauritius, Maldives and Nepal.  If we have EASA certification, the sales would be faster. The process is on to get the same.

CAG:  As against the envisaged indigenisation level of 50 per cent, about 90 per cent of the value of material used in each helicopter is procured from foreign suppliers.

Reply to Tarmak007 by an HAL source:   HAL cannot make everything as it is not economically prudent.  The civil industry has not come of age in India.  Globally too, no company makes all components.
CAG recommendations:

CAG:  Series production should be taken up only after prototypes are approved/certified and accepted by the customer.

Reply to Tarmak007 by an HAL source:   It would consideraly delay the project. Users are involved in the testing and their inputs are incorporated.  The model followed for Dhruv of concorruent production is the globally accepted process.

CAG:  Modifications desired by the customer should be with reference to a time frame
and technical competency of the Company.
Reply to Tarmak007 by an HAL source:  Stands to logic refer Q1
CAG:  The capacity should be ramped up as to peak up production as planned.

Reply to Tarmak007 by an HAL source:  Yes
CAG:  The Company should quicken the process of submitting the documents and obtain the certifications early.

Reply to Tarmak007 by an HAL source:  Yes
CAG:  As the Company has entered the highly competitive civilian/ export markets the design/quality issues need to be resolved early to gain the confidence of the customers to remain in the market.

Reply to Tarmak007 by an HAL source:  Yes
CAG:  The Company should expedite efforts to get International certificate on priority to be a global player. The Company should exploit civil market by executing the orders successfully and consider options of sale technique through leasing of ALH.

Reply to Tarmak007 by an HAL source:  Yes
CAG:  Concerted efforts are needed to achieve the desired (50 per cent) level of indigenisation.

Reply to Tarmak007 by an HAL source:  Not possible for another 10 years.
Additional queries by the blogger:

Tarmak007: Is it true that the 'one particular department' is playing the 'dirty games' in delaying procurement?
Please explain.

Reply to Tarmak007 by an HAL source:  Yes
Tarmak007: Is the mind-wars between the Fixed Wing and Rotary Wing lobbies within HAL affecting the Dhruv program?

Reply to Tarmak007 by an HAL source:  --
Tarmak007: Have things gone out of control after Nayak took over as chairman?

Reply to Tarmak007 by an HAL source:  --
Tarmak007: Are the designers, engineers and workmen doing their bit to make the project a success?

Reply to Tarmak007 by an HAL source:  Yes
Tarmak007: What in your view can stem the rot in HAL, if any? How can you clear the mess and salvage the pride now?

Reply to Tarmak007 by an HAL source:  Free it from bureaucratic wrangles.
Tarmak007: Finally, what are the flaws in HAL's marketing plans w.r.t. ALH? What needs to be done make the product more successful?
Reply to Tarmak007 by an HAL source:  First prove the product then it will market itself. 

(Stay tuned for another report on ALH)

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