Defense sources said the project approval for the Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH) being developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) would be within this financial year.
Meanwhile, Safran Helicopter Engines and HAL have decided to set up their new joint venture company in Bengaluru, which will be dedicated to “design, development, production, sales and support of helicopter engines”. The company announced.
Expected to be ready by the end of this decade, the IMRH is intended to replace the in-service Mi-17s and will also have a naval version, the Deck Based Multi-Role Helicopter (DBMRH).
“The project is on schedule and HAL is now using its own funds. Proof of concept is on track and the Detailed Project Report (DPR) will be submitted to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) next month for approval, a defense official said.
Once approved, development is expected to take about seven years, officials added.
The two different versions are expected to cost around Rs 10,000 crore The Hindu Earlier. The Coast Guard is also interested in customizing the DBMRH as per its requirements.
Safran’s statement came shortly after an India-French joint statement issued on Friday mentioned the termination of a shareholder agreement between HAL and India for the development of the engine for the Safran helicopter engine to enable progress on the IMRH programme. .
“It will be dedicated to the design, development, production, sales and support of helicopter engines with the initial objective of building the most adequate propulsion solution for the future 13-tonne IMRH and DBMRH of the Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD). This joint venture will be the first engine design and manufacture in India,” Safran said. Said.
It said the decision was taken thanks to a dynamic general work cycle between the two companies, following the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on July 8, 2022 and the agreement on workshare with Aero India 2023.
“We at Safran Helicopter Engines are really pleased to partner with HAL and India to form this new turboshaft engine joint venture to address the Indian market and future export opportunities,” said Cedric Gaubet, CEO, Safran Helicopter Engines.
Safran and HAL have a long-standing collaboration in helicopter engines, including the Shakti engine that powers HAL-produced helicopters including the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruva, the armed ALH Rudra and the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) Prachand. Safran says more than 500 Shakti engines have already been built.
HAL CMD CB Ananthakrishnan said that HAL’s experience in manufacturing more than 15 types of aircraft and helicopter engines and Safran Helicopter Engines’ expertise in designing turboshaft engines are being leveraged for this venture. Make Turboshaft Engines in India – Immediate focus on IMRH and DBMRH.
Maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services for the TM333 Shakti engines in service with the Indian Armed Forces will be provided through the HE-MRO joint venture in Goa between the two companies, the statement said.
Mi-17 replaced the helicopter fleet
The IAF operates a very large Mi-17 fleet – Mi-17, Mi-17 1V and Mi-17 V5. It is the workhorse of the IAF’s helicopter fleet. Between 2008 and 2013, India contracted 151 Mi-17V5s, the last of which was delivered in February 2016. In total, the IAF operates around 500 rotary platforms, including around 90 Mi-17s, which include 130 Mi-17V5s. , more than 70 ALH, armed variant, 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, a squadron of Mi-35 attack helicopters, 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy lift helicopters, apart from the LCH currently inducted. The oldest Mi-17 aircraft are expected to be phased out from 2028 onwards.
HAL is looking to benchmark the proposed IMRH against the Russian Mi-17, Sikorsky S-92, AgustaWestland AW-101, NHIndustries NH-90 and Eurocopter EC-725, and intends to target the global helicopter market. The intended roles of the IMRH are to support air assault, air transport, combat logistics, combat search and rescue, casualty evacuation and deployment for VVIP duty, HAL officials had earlier clarified.
HAL plans to manufacture more than 1,000 helicopters ranging from three tonnes to 15 tonnes, a total business of ₹4 lakh crore over 20 years. In February, HAL inaugurated its new helicopter factory in Tumkuru, Karnataka, India’s largest helicopter manufacturing facility, which will initially manufacture light utility helicopters (LUH). Initially, the factory will produce around 30 helicopters per year, which can be increased to 60 and later to 90 in a phased manner, HAL said.
The Navy had projected a requirement of more than 100 MRH and scrapped a global tender for 123 MRH. The Navy is currently in the process of procuring 24 MH-60R MRHs under a $2.2 billion contract signed with Lockheed Martin in February 2020.