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Home arrow News arrow Defence arrow Defexpo Technology Seminar on Helicopters Focus on Huge Investment Potential
Defexpo Technology Seminar on Helicopters Focus on Huge Investment Potential Print E-mail
Written by Jeeva   
Tuesday, 19 February 2008
New Delhi:  Brigadier Harish Arora, Deputy Director General, Army Aviation, Integrated HQ of Ministry of Defence (Army), chaired the technology seminar on helicopters at the ongoing Def Expo 2008 in Pragati Maidan, New Delhi.

Calling the helicopter the most versatile mode of transportation. Brigadier Harish Arora announced that the Ministry of Defence, Govt of India,  has announced 2008 as the year of helicopters and began the discussion by introducing the role of Army Aviation in enhancing the capabilities of helicopters and accepting futuristic challenges.

He said that helicopters were the ‘future of combat’ and that the quantum leap in technology has brought about a sea change in the perception of helicopters which are now considered a safe and affordable platform.

Col. A.K.Suri of the Indian Army began the discussion by sharing that Army Aviation has an inventory of 250 helicopters that operate in diverse terrains from glaciers, deserts, plains and jungles. Army Aviation is the fastest growing arm of the Indian Army whose helicopter fleet strength is set to grow to five hundred by 2020. In fact, the growth is expected not only in the numbers of helicopters but also their ancillary support systems.

Further highlighting the opportunities for indigenous industry, Col Suri said that growth is expected in fleet upgradation, replacement, expansion, diversification and support services.  He pointed out that Army Aviation was the most capital-intensive wing of Indian Army and that its current fleet includes Chetak, Cheetah and Advanced Light Helicopters. The planned induction, according to Col Suri, were Advanced Light Helicopters (weapon system integrated), Indian Multi-Role Helicopters and Attack Helicopters. He pointed out that each helicopter also requires basic, sensory and support services.

Amongst the support servcies, he defined Air Traffic Services that include radars, radio sets, visual aids, runaway lighting and tactical runaway lighting; various meteorological services that include air field meteorological services, tactical services; radio navigational services including homers and landing systems; safety services; aviation medical services; refueling services and maintenance services which formed the largest chunk of investment in helicopter industry. Giving an example, he pointed out that one Advanced Light helicopter costs Rs 35 crore and its ground handling equipment itself costs Rs 12 crore.

He further highlighted the scope of indigenous industry by pointing out that a large amount of investment can be made in indigenizing imported systems, partnerships for developing alternatives in lieu of imported systems, sourcing structural parts of indigenous systems.

The others speakers who highlighted the role of indigenization in design and production of helicopters, both defence and commercial, at the seminar were Mr Gautam D. Phull, Manager, Business Development, Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, United States; Brig B.K. Malik, Sales Manager, Bell Textron; Mr Adrian Geal, Head (Marketing), Military Product, Augusta Westland and Dr Prasad Sampath, Additional General Manager, Design, HAL.

The seminar concluded on a positive note by affirming that indigenization of design and production of helicopters should be a key goal for Indian industry and that the forthcoming contracts included replacing Chetak and Cheetah fleet which has a potential of $ 1 billion.

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