From the design to the provision of components and ammunition the involvement of foreign companies in the development of the ALH is considerable. At least 29 companies in nine countries across four continents have been involved with the development, licensed production or supply of components or munitions for the ALH. Ten of these companies are based in six EU Member States (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK). Other companies involved include a number based in Israel and the USA. Since its inception, the ALH has been a collaborative effort between the German company Messerschmitt-Bölkow Blohm (now Eurocopter Deutschland) and HAL:
"One thing should be clear. Though it is India's, if not Asia's, first de novodesigned helicopter, it is not ‘indigenous’ in the Indian sense of the term, but a collaborative effort of HAL and specialists from Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm, who built the Eurocopter, which the Advanced Light Helicopter resembles."
It is not clear what configuration of armaments and components will be incorporated into the variants of any ALHs that might eventually be exported to Myanmar, but it is incumbent on governments to ensure that components produced or otherwise originating from within their jurisdiction are not incorporated into military helicopters transferred to Myanmar. The section below provides illustrative examples of key foreign involvement in the development of the ALH.
Core foreign components for the ALH include helicopter engines and rotor blades, as well as hydraulics, cockpit displays, vibration dampers and other "mission-critical parts". In addition, European firms have contributed to the offensive military capability of the attack helicopter version: variants of the ALH have incorporated rocket launchers of Belgian origin, and machine guns and missiles of French origin.
European and US firms have been involved in designing and developing the aircraft and its components. As a consequence — not least with major structural components like engines and rotors — it would be difficult, if not impossible, for HAL to source adequate alternative components from non-European or non-US suppliers. Similarly it may be difficult for HAL to manufacture such components itself without technical support from those firms.
Letters were faxed to each of the companies mentioned in this report, noting the reports that the Government of India was in negotiations with the Government of Myanmar to supply the ALH, and requesting information about their involvement in the development of the ALH through the manufacture and supply of components, technology and/or assistance. The letters also asked about the terms of the licences under which such transfers were made, including any restrictions applied to re-export.
Many of the companies’ responses summarised below specifically state that the contracts conform to their government’s requirements. Nevertheless, should such transfers of the ALH from India go ahead over the coming months, it is likely that military equipment, components and technology supplied from EU and US manufacturers incorporated into the ALH will end up in an embargoed destination. There is no suggestion that these companies will have broken current laws or regulations or deliberately violated the EU arms embargo on Myanmar. However, in almost all of these cases, the exports would not have been permitted from the country where the controlling company is based if they were supplied direct to Myanmar.
The following section illustrates the scale of involvement of non-Indian companies in the design.
The European Union
Forges de Zeebrugge FZ
Variants of the ALH have incorporated rocket launchers produced by the Belgiam company, Forges de Zeebrugge FZ.For example, the photo below shows the FZ nameplate on the rocket launcher mounted on ALH on display at Farnborough International, UK on 14 August 2006.
Forges de Zeebrugge FZ confirmed that they have contracts with both HAL and the Indian Army, which have been approved by the Belgian authorities and are subject to end-use agreements. Confidentiality clauses contained within the contract prevented fuller disclosure of any details surrounding the nature of the deal.
The French company Turbomeca (now part of the Safran Group) has undertaken both the direct export of engines from France to India but has also established licensed production and technology transfer arrangements with HAL to produce engines for the ALH. In February 2003, it was announced that Turbomeca and HAL had signed three major contracts. These included a contract for the supply of TM 333 2B2 engines for application on the HAL helicopter; and another contract for the repair and overhaul licence for the TM 333 2B2. The HAL website states that the ALH continues to use the "Turbomeca TM 333-2B2 Twin Turbo-shaft Engine 746 kw (1000 SHP)".
Turbomeca confirmed that it has three contracts with HAL, two of which cover the supply, repair, servicing and overhaul of the TM333-2B2 engines for the ALH. The company also stated that all its contracts were regulated by the appropriate French export licensing authorities. However in its response to our enquiries the French Government stated that the engines in question are not classified as war material by the French regulations and do not appear in the list of items subject to the Myanmar embargo. In our view, this interpretation is wrong because non-listed items in the EC Dual Use Regulation if incorporated into military items bound for embargoed destinations become licensable, that is subject to the embargo (for more on this see the section on EU export controls on re-exports over military equipmentbelow).
It would therefore appear that the French Government places no restrictions on the transfer of equipment fundamental to the operation of the ALH notwithstanding the fact that it is clearly also used as a military aircraft.
GIAT Industries (Nexter) and MBDA
In July 2006 defence news service Shepherd Rotorhub quoted Hindustan
Aeronautics' chairman Ashok Baweja describing a weaponisation programme was under way for the ALH. This was to include a 20mm gun from the French company GIAT and rockets from European missile manufacturer MBDA. In December 2006, GIAT (now renamed Nexter) announced that it had been awarded a contract by HAL for:
"the supply of 20 THL 20 turrets that will equip the Indian Armed Forces' Advanced Light Helicopter. The order covers the development phase of 20 turrets. The first deliveries will take place in 2008…."
In March 2007 Jane's Information Group reported that HAL signed a deal with MBDA in July 2006 for the supply of air-to-air Mistral missiles for armed versions of the ALH.
Nexter has confirmed that it does supply products to HAL for the ALH. This currently includes twenty ‘THL 20’ 20mm Helicopter turrets. The company also stated that all of its exports are regulated and approved by the appropriate French export licensing authorities and that any additional contracts to supply the ALH that were not stipulated in the original contract would require a further export licence.
Eurocopter Deutschland (formerly MBB) and now wholly owned by Eurocopter
Eurocopter has been involved (originally as MBB) with the development of the ALH since at least July 1984. In November 1995, it was reported that Eurocopter had submitted a proposal to the Indian Defence Ministry to "co-produce the ALH designed by HAL. It plans to set up production facilities in India to manufacture the ALH for both local and export markets."In 2006 both companies were advertising their mutual co-operation: Eurocopter noting that it was supplying rotor blades for the ALH, and HAL announcing that "Eurocopter, the helicopter manufacturer owned by EADS, has been cooperating with HAL for over four decades … India was the first nation with which Eurocopter signed a licence agreement for technology transfer." Amnesty International wrote to Eurocopter in March 2007 asking for clarification over its role in the development of the ALH. As of 25 June 2007, the company had not responded.
SITEC Aerospace manufactures a range of components and complete assemblies for flight/engine controls for various types of aircraft. According to company literature on display at Farnborough International 2006, SITEC provides components for the ALH.
SITEC Aerospace confirmed that they supply parts for the ALH, but that they do not export these directly to HAL, but supply them to another unnamed German manufacturer who subsequently incorporates these items into other systems for the ALH.
Elettronica Aster SpA
The Italian company Elettronica Aster SpA on its website describes HAL as a major customer. According to the "Company and Program Overview", Elettronica Aster SpA has produced and supplied the ALH with a brake system.
Amnesty International wrote to Elettronica Aster SpA in March 2007 to ask for clarifications as to its involvement in the development of the ALH. In its reply dated 15 March, the company had no comment on the specifics of its supply of components for the ALH, stating only that Elettronica Aster SpA’s "export activity is regulated by the rules called out in the Italian Law no.185/’90 (with amendment DDL 1927), establishing the regulation for weapons import/export/transit."
Saab Avitronics, the South African joint venture company owned by Saab AB (Sweden) and Saab Grintek (South Africa, itself part owned by Saab AB), has been awarded a multi-million dollar export contract from HAL for the supply of self-protection equipment for installation on the ALH for the Indian Armed Forces.
Amnesty International wrote to Saab AB on 1 June 2007 asking for clarification over its involvement with the ALH. Saab AB replied saying: "All export approvals from the concerned authorities are in place. The export licences are supported by an end-user certificate."
The United Kingdom
APPH Precision Hydraulics
At the 2004 Farnborough arms fair, the UK company APPH Precision Hydraulics Ltd displayed its Hydraulic Package as the following:
"HAL Advanced Light Helicopter Hydraulic Package designed and manufactured by APPH Ltd"
Amnesty International wrote to in March 2007 to ask for clarifications as its involvement in the development of the ALH. As of 25 June 2007, the company had not responded.
FPT Industries Ltd
In 1993 it was reported that FPT Industries Ltd had been awarded a contract to supply floatation equipment for the ALH under development by HAL. FTP Industries is part of GKN Aerospace Services Ltd. In 1997, it was reported that FPT Industries’ self-sealing fuel tank systems were being used in the ALH. In 2007, the FPT Industries website stated that: "FPT equipment is fitted to a range of helicopters including ALH".
In 1997, the then GKN Westland Aerospace Ltd (renamed GKN Aerospace Services Ltd in 2001) was awarded a contract to supply the internal gearbox BR715 for HAL’s ALH.
GKN Aerospace Services Ltd confirmed that they have supplied fuel tanks, floatation equipment and related gaskets and seals for the ALH, but that these are subject to end-use certificates stipulating that they would not be re-exported. The company stated that future supplies for the ALH would be for components and kits for fuel tanks that would be assembled locally in India, but would again be subject to similar end-use undertakings. However, while the UK Government normally requires the presentation of end-use documentation as part of the licensing process, it does not as a rule then include explicit end-use restrictions as a conditionon the export licence. If this is the case in this instance, what force those end-use undertakings have is unclear.
Other third-country involvement in the ALH:
The United States
It should be noted that the US embargo on Myanmar does not specifically mention indirect supplies, nor does it place controls on civilian components that are incorporated into military systems. However, indirect supplies of US military components or other controlled items are subject to re-export controls under the US International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) system which specifically states that re-export of US-controlled content can only take place with the express permission of the US Government. Section 123.9 "Country of ultimate destination" provides that:
"(a) The country designated as the country of ultimate destination on an application for an export licence, or on a shipper's export declaration where an exemption is claimed under this subchapter, must be the country of ultimate end-use. The written approval of the Department of State must be obtained before reselling, diverting, transferring, transshipping, or disposing of a defense article in any country other than the country of ultimate destination as stated on the export licence, or on the shipper's export declaration in cases where an exemption is claimed under this subchapter. Exporters must ascertain the specific end-use and end-user prior to submitting an application to the Office of Munitions Control or claiming an exemption under this subchapter. End-use must be confirmed and should not be assumed."
However, it is not clear whether components supplied by US companies for the ALH have been specifically designed or adapted for military use. If not, they may fall outside this specification.
Aitech Systems Ltd
In September 2005, it was reported that Aitech Systems Ltd, a US company, had announced it had "received the first production order from the Lahav Division of Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) for Display & Mission Computers" for inclusion in the glass cockpit of the ALH. The Lahav Division of IAI is under contract to HAL to develop and provide the avionics system for the HAL.
Deliveries for the first production of Display and Mission Computers were due to be completed by May 2006:
"Aitech will build 400 Display & Mission Computers for the ALH program, to be delivered over the next several years. In addition, Aitech is under contract to IAI to provide the next generation of Display & Mission Computer."
Amnesty International wrote to the company in March 2007 asking for clarifications over its involvement with the ALH, but has yet to receive a reply (as of 25 June 2007).
In January 2004, it was reported that Lord Corporation had announced that it had been "awarded the first production contract for its active vibration control system" for the ALH. Lord Corporation had been supplying other parts (such as elastomeric bearings) for the main tail rotor and parts for various "isolators", which together formed part of an anti-resonance isolator system aimed at reducing vibrations in the aircraft." The report also stated that "Lord would supply the vibration dampers for these aircraft with user approvals."