India is pursuing plans to build its own multi-role helicopters that could be made available to the three services in the next 6 years.
If all goes as per the plans of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, the first prototype of the helicopter could be out by 2020. A senior HAL official said the programme was on track and a priority for the state-owned firm.
Here’s all you need to know about the Indian multi-role helicopter (IMRH) project:
Competition for Mi-17 choppers
The IMRH is expected to compete with Russian Mi-17 choppers in both Indian and foreign markets. HAL says the platform could have a huge market as nearly 40 air forces across the world operate Mi-17 type helicopters. The Mi-17 is the mainstay of the Indian Air Force’s transport fleet.
Types of missions
HAL officials say the IMRH will be capable of carrying out a wider variety of missions than the Mi-17. The indigenous helicopter, which is currently in design stage, could be used for transporting troops, conducting assault operations, air maintenance and anti-submarine warfare among other roles.
- Weight class: 12.5 tonne
- Engines: 2
- Payload: 3,500kg
- Passengers: 24
- Service ceiling: Over 20,000 feet
The HAL is seeking to build the helicopter without any foreign help. However, HAL sources said the engines for the IMRH could be sourced from a foreign military contractor. HAL has estimated a requirement for 350 to 400 choppers but the number could be revised depending on market projections.
Indian helicopter fleet
The IMRH will join a wide variety of helicopters in the Indian fleet ranging from Mi-17V5, Dhruv advanced light helicopter, Ka-226T (yet to be built) to Apache attack helicopters and Chinook heavy-lift choppers whose induction will begin in about 2 years.