August 21, 2010:
The Indian government recently discovered that its Indian made Dhruv military helicopter was put together mostly (90 percent) of imported parts. The manufacturer had kept quiet about this, because at least half the parts in "Indian made" weapons are supposed to be made in India. As embarrassing as that revelation was, there are other problems.
For over three decades now, India has been making a mighty effort to develop the ability to design and manufacture modern weapons. It isn't easy, as military manufacturers in neighboring China can attest. But unlike China, Indian manufacturers don't have the license to steal technology and manufacturing techniques. This means more weapons components have to be imported, even if quietly and without any publicity.
This weapons manufacturing effort has had many problems. Two years ago, the Indian Navy announced it would not purchase anymore Indian-made Dhruv helicopters. The navy had bought six of the Dhruvs for evaluation, and did not like what they saw. The main complaints were lack of engine power, and poor reliability. These were considered fatal flaws for helicopters meant for SAR (search and rescue) and ASW (anti-submarine warfare.)
The 5.5 ton Dhruv was in development for two decades before the first one was delivered eight years ago. Since then, nearly 80 have been delivered, mostly to the Indian Army. But some foreign customers (Nepal and Myanmar) have also taken a few. A series of crashes indicates some basic design flaws, which the manufacturer insists do not exist. The navy disagrees, even though the fleet is desperate to replace over three dozen of its elderly Sea King helicopters (a 1950s design, and the Indian Navy models are 20-35 years old).