The Suriname government is buying three Dhruv helicopters from India for its national army, the ministry of defence announced in the national capital of Paramaribo on Wednesday. The aircraft would be mainly for transportation of army personnel, but if necessary they could also be used for combat operations. The order represents another feather in Indian aerospace and defence manufacturer, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd's cap as it strives hard to secure orders in the fiercely competitive internationalexport market.
During budget debates in parliament in January, defence minister Ivan Fernald had announced the decision of the government to purchase the military equipment, but was reluctant to disclose details since negotiations with India were not yet completed. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will deliver the indigenously designed and developed advanced light helicopters (ALH).
The deal is worth about Rs750 million ($15.3 million), and is being financed with a line of credit from the Indian government. According to the ministry of defence, the copters are needed for the Surinamese national army to adequately carry out its constitutional functions. "With its presence at the national borders the army is executing its preventive duty," said the ministry.
Defence minister Fernald is currently in India to sign the contracts, along with his permanent secretary Dennis Kamperveen and Lt Col Jerry Slijngaard, head of the National Coordination Centre for Disaster Management (NCCR). The officials are also attending the seventh edition of the international air show Aero India 2009, currently on in Bangalore.
Talks will also be held to advance the defence relations between Suriname and India. Fernald and his Indian counterpart Arackaparambil Kurian Antony will engage in bilateral talks.
During the 80s and early 90s, the Suriname air force had a considerable number of helicopters and other aircraft, but, due to losses during the internal armed conflict in the late 80s and poor maintenance, the fleet deteriorated.