Saab has received large follow-on orders for integrated self-protection systems for installation on the Indian Army and Air Force’s Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters in deals worth approximately $78 million.
The Dhruv’s manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) ordered additional Integrated Defensive Aids Suites (IDAS), which warn against radar, laser and infrared (IR) guided threats and automatically deploy appropriate countermeasures. IDAS has been designed for both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. Saab also produces protection systems for both land and naval applications.
Production of the IDAS system will take place at Saab Grintek Defence’s facilities in Centurion, with deliveries set to take place between 2015 and 2018. In addition to the production orders received, Saab also received orders for IDAS ground support and test equipment for the Dhruv programme. Chris Skinner, head of marketing and sales at Saab Grintek Defence, said that Saab and HAL are in talks over the production of IDAS components in India.
Anne Lewis-Olsson, Vice President Communication Sub Sahara Africa for Saab Grintek Defence, said the Indian order is huge for Saab Grintek Defence and will have good long-term implications for the company. She said it will also retain skills and competence in South Africa.
“This is the type of order that companies dream about,” Skinner said, adding that this will mean that production facilities will have to be expanded to accommodate. He expects Saab Grintek Defence to receive additional follow-on IDAS orders from HAL.
Saab has been awarded several follow-on contracts in the past, after receiving initial serial production orders in December 2008 worth $24 million. For instance, it received contracts worth $33 million in September 2013. However, the most recent orders are by far the largest from HAL, Skinner said, as the company speeds up helicopter production.
Micael Johansson, head of Saab business area Electronic Defence Systems said that, “the success of IDAS continues and we are proud that HAL and the Indian Armed Forces have continued faith in the IDAS system, of which this follow-on orders is a clear indication. It is a testimony of the effectiveness and reliability of the IDAS solution.”
“With these follow-on orders we continue to build on our very successful partnership with HAL and further establish Saab as a local partner to the Indian industry and as a supplier of high tech products and systems to the Indian Armed Forces”, said Lars-Olof Lindgren, head of Saab market area India.
Saab says IDAS has been chosen for many different airborne platforms, including the Saab 2000, Agusta-Westland A109, Super Lynx 300, Boeing CH-47 Chinook, Denel Rooivalk and Oryx, Eurocopter Cougar, Puma & Super Puma, NH Industries NH90, C-130 and L100 Hercules, and Sukhoi Su-30MKM.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is receiving 54 Dhruvs to partially replace its approximately 65 HAL Chetak and 25 Cheetah light helicopters, while the Army is taking 105 under a $3.56 billion order placed in 2007. Over 150 Dhruvs have been delivered to military and paramilitary forces after delays, technical problems, crashes and maintenance issues. HAL is currently manufacturing the improved Mk III and armed Mk IV Rudra variants (half of Dhruvs built will be these armed versions).
HAL is also working on the indigenous Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), based on the Dhruv. The first LCH prototype made its maiden flight in March 2010 and the third in November 2014. Initial operational capability is expected by September this year. HAL will build 65 for the IAF and 114 or the Indian Army. Although Saab Grintek Defence is only producing IDAS suites for the Indian Army and Air Force Dhruvs at the moment, it will be bidding to supply the system on the Light Combat Helicopter.
Skinner told defenceWeb that SGD had also secured another order for IDAS from a European client and is working with major original equipment manufacturers like Airbus Helicopters. In addition to selling the system to clients around the world, Skinner said there are some customers who also want local production.