The Ecuadorian Air Force has put up its three Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Dhruv helicopters for sale, which it had acquired in 2009 for its utility transport needs .
The announcement was made by the country’s Minister of Defence Ricardo Patiño last week on Thursday.
Seven of the light utility twin-engine helicopters were purchased new in 2008 for USD 45 million, and were the first of the type known to operate in the Americas. However, four were lost in crashes between 2009 and 2015, and the others were subsequently grounded. On 14 October 2015, then-Minister of Defence Fernando Cordero announced the helicopters would not be used again.
Four of the seven helicopters had succumbed to accidents, which had resulted in the collective deaths of three military personnel. Thus, the Ecuadorian Air Force grounded its Dhruv fleet, and as of last week, it is seeking to sell off its remaining helicopters.
Ecuador has also terminated the Dhruv contract it had with HAL.
The two of the crashes were seemingly a result of pilot error, whilst two could be blamed on mechanical failures.
The Ecuadorian government is now seeking a buyer for the three remaining aircraft, which are stored at Guayaquil Air Base.