India has stepped up joint efforts with Israel to market an indigenously developed helicopter around the world and is hopeful of receiving an order for it from Chile, the Indo-Asian News Service reported Friday.
N.R. Mohanty, chairman of India's aviation major Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) that makes the Dhruv advanced light helicopters, said his organization had signed an agreement with Israel Aircraft Industries for joint marketing of the aircraft.
HAL sold two of the home-grown helicopters to the Nepalese armed forces last year and it was recently demonstrated to the military in Chile by a team of Indian and Israeli experts.
"The Chileans were satisfied with the technical demonstrations and the commercial negotiations are yet to begin, but we are hopeful of orders from them," Mohanty told reporters here.
"We have 31 advanced light helicopters so far and 29 of them are flying in India," he said, noting that the country's armed forces and the Coast Guard had projected a requirement of 200 helicopters.
HAL currently has the capability to build 24 Dhruv helicopters a year, but Mohanty said this figure could be scaled up by workingclosely with private industry, which makes several sub-assemblies used in the aircraft.
"We are capable of producing up to 40 helicopters a year if the need arises," he said.
The Dhruv helicopter is currently powered by an engine suppliedby France's Turbomeca. HAL and Turbomeca are also working on developing a more powerful engine called Shakti for use in future versions of the helicopter.
The Dhruv helicopter can be used for both military and civilianpurposes and can carry 14 passengers. Almost 75 percent of its components are indigenous.