Source : The Indian Express
|Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH) final design concept by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the helicopter is intended to replace all ageing Russian Mil Mi-17 choppers in service with the 3 Indian Armed Forces|
Bengaluru: India will likely have an indigenous medium-lift helicopter in the next 8 to 10 years to replace the Russian Mi-17s which will start getting phased out by 2028, an official of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has said.
Speaking to The Indian Express on the sidelines of the Aero India 2023, Abdul Rashid Tajar, Chief Manager (Design) Aerodynamics at HAL, said the preliminary design of the future 13-tonne Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH) has already been frozen and the detailed design for the helicopter will be undertaken soon.
The helicopter will also have a naval variant: the Deck-Based Multi-Role Helicopter.
“We are awaiting the funding… the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security. Within four years of the CCS approval, we will be ready for the first flight of the prototype and expect to get the testing certification within the next four years,” Tajar said.
“The helicopters should be ready for induction into the IAF after eight years when the Mi-17s will be phasing out,” he said.
Once the Russian Mi-17s, and subsequently the Mi-17 V5s, phase out, these medium-lift helicopters will fill the gap in the IAF’s transport chopper fleet. The IAF at present has around 250 Mi-17 choppers – each can carry over 30 troops and other loads.
The IMRH will be capable of supporting air assault, air transport, combat logistics, combat search and rescue, and casualty evacuation operations. It will be able to carry up to 4,500 kg of payload at sea level.
Why it’s a workhorse
HAL is confident it can start rolling out its own medium-lift helicopters in 8 years when the IAF starts phasing out the Russian Mi-17 workhorses. These will be key to air assault, air transport, combat logistics, combat search and rescue, and evacuation operations.
The engine of the helicopter will be jointly developed by the French Safran Helicopter Engines and HAL. During the Aero India, both signed a workshare agreement for formation of a joint venture for design, development, manufacture and lifetime support of helicopter engines.
The cost of each helicopter is likely to be over Rs 300 crore and the HAL is looking at a minimum order of over 500 helicopters, Tajar said.
On export opportunities, the official said HAL will be exploring the option of offering the helicopter to friendly nations, including in Latin America where there is a requirement of such choppers.
He said existing medium-sized helicopters used by major militaries such as the Russian Mi-17, the European NH90, or the American S-92 are around 20-30 years old. The IMRH, he said, will have modern technology and state-of-the-art equipment and will be a good option for export to countries looking for such a category of helicopters.
Officials said that even as the project awaits the CCS nod, HAL is exploring parallel ways of funding for the development of the helicopters, including the option of partially funding it with its funds.