Indian Army’s HAL Dhruv Helicopter crashes into Ranjit Sagar Dam

Today an ALH Dhruv helicopter of the Indian Army crashed into the Ranjit Sagar Dam located in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Initial reports suggested at least five were on board the chopper, which apparently developed a snag after take-off at around 11 a.m. from Purthu in Basohli area.

The search operations for the two pilots are still on. Initial reports from the ground suggested that they have been recovered safely, Indian media reported Tuesday.

The National Disaster Response Force is also assisting in the search and rescue operation in the dam’s lake. Police and Army teams are also at the site.

The chopper belonged to the 254 Army Aviation Squadron and had taken off from and Mamun cantonment 10 minutes before it came down. Officials say it was carrying out low-level sorties when it lost control.

ALH Dhruv is a multi-role, new generation helicopter in the 5.5-ton weight class, indigenously designed and developed by HAL. The aircraft is powered by two Shakti engines.

There have been 16 accidents involving the indigenously built Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) ever since the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited began producing them in 2002, the government informed Parliament on Tuesday.

Of the accidents, two of them are civilian variants. Eleven accidents occurred in India and five abroad.

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“Out of 16 accidents, 12 occurred due to human error and environmental factors and the remaining four occurred due to technical reasons,” Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.

Dhruv has been indigenously designed and developed by the HAL and is powered by a Shakti engine jointly developed by the HAL and Turbomeca of France.

Ecuador had procured seven ALH Dhruvs from India, five in 2009 and two in 2011 in a deal worth $ 45.2 million, of which four had crashed following which the remaining had been grounded. Late last year, the Government of Ecuador had unilaterally terminated the contract with HAL.

In addition to Ecuador, two ALHs had been exported to the Maldives and one each to Nepal and Mauritius. The series of crashes have come as an embarrassment in the backdrop of the government’s ambitious plan to turn India into a major exporter of military hardware.

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