HAL, navy sign agreement on maintaining choppers

Wednesday, 30 June 2004, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: State-owned aviation major Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and the Indian Navy Monday signed an agreement for repair and overhaul of the force's Sea King helicopters.

The project, which will cost around 716.8 million ($15.6 million), would go a long way in enhancing the serviceability of the Sea King helicopters and reducing the "down time", or time when a helicopter is unavailable for operations as it is repaired or overhauled.

Vice Admiral S.V. Gopalachari, deputy chief of the Indian Navy, and HAL Chairman N.R. Mohanty signed the agreement here Monday.

The navy had been sending the helicopters to Britain for repairs and this had adversely affected operations by the helicopter fleet, which play a crucial role in search and rescue operations and anti-submarine warfare, officials said.

Sanctions slapped by the US on India following its May 1998 nuclear tests led to an acute shortage of spares for the Sea King helicopters and a majority of the fleet was grounded. The sanctions were later lifted and the suplly of spares resumed last year.

A defence ministry spokesman said: "This project is a major milestone in creating an indigenous state-of-the-art generic repair and overhaul facility. This was made possible by concerted efforts at the highest level of the Indian Navy and HAL."

These efforts led to a contract in March to acquire technology from Britain's Westland Helicopters Limited, the makers of the Sea King, to set up a repair facility at Bangalore.

The facility, which is expected to be fully functional by the end of the current fiscal March 31, will repair the Sea King's transmission system components. "These facilities and know-how were not available in the country," the spokesman said.

"As a result, the Indian Navy will have an uninterrupted repair and full overhaul and spares support to enhance its reliability and fleet readiness at all times," he said.

"This project offers an opportunity for the country to become self-reliant in service and full overhaul of Sea King transmission assemblies and serves as a platform in achieving self-reliance on other helicopters of foreign origin.

Source: IANS
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