HAL unveiled mock a of its IMRH at Aero India which didn’t see any global display of helicopters
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Holding the Fort

HAL unveiled mock a of its IMRH at Aero India which didn’t see any global display of helicopters

Dilip Kumar Mekala

Amidst a lot of fanfare, defence minister Manohar Parrikar unveiled a full scale mockup of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)’s Indian Multirole Helicopter (IMRH) at Aero India 2017 held in Bengaluru. HAL hopes to pitch this aircraft for the varied needs of the Indian armed forces. Speaking to the media, HAL CMD, T Suvarna Raju explained, “Options exist for Indian Air Force (IAF), Indian Army and Indian Army versions of the IMRH. We will decide on them when we do a preliminary design”.

The 12-tonne class IMRH with service ceiling of around 20,000 feet, 3,500 kg payload and a seating capacity of 24 is the latest in the long line of helicopters from HAL’s stable. The major roles to be performed by IMRH are tactical troop transport, casualty evacuation, under slung load, combat search and rescue, anti-surface operations, off-shore operations, VIP/VVIP transport and air ambulance. “The Indian Army and IAF version will have a significant hovering and payload capability especially at high altitude”, added Raju.

The proposed IMRH will be powered by twin engines (to be identified), equipped with automatic flight control system, state-of-the-art mission systems, advanced cockpit display and avionics systems, etc. to meet the needs of the Indian armed forces. HAL said that a dedicated naval variant is also planned. Besides the domestic defence orders, HAL will target export orders, aiming to replace the ageing fleet of similar class of helicopters that are operational in more than 40 air forces around the world.

HAL’s key indigenous rotary wing products Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) and Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) made flight demonstrations at the show. In addition, the customer demonstration flights were held for ALH Mk III Dhruv and Mk IV (Rudra).

In September 2016, HAL successfully carried out the maiden flight for the LUH with its first prototype. In order to accelerate the programme, HAL plans to build two more prototypes. HAL hopes to achieve certification of the LUH by December 2017, after which the series production will follow at its Tumakuru facility near Bengaluru. At Aero India HAL signed an MoU with Central Public Works Department (CPWD) for execution of infrastructure development works at HAL’s new greenfield helicopter facility at Tumakuru. “The project spread over 615 acres of land allotted by the government of Karnataka will house infrastructure for production and testing facilities, self-sufficient manufacturing capabilities of a wide range of helicopters of 3-ton to 12-ton class”, said Raju.

Giving the details of the LCH programme, Raju said, “LCH is a very agile helicopter designed with stealth features, with over 850 flights carried out subsequent to the maiden flight in March 2010, the development of LCH is completed and basic configuration has been frozen in October 2015. Presently, LCH is undergoing weapon integration and weapon trials”. HAL highlights that LCH has the distinction of being the first attack helicopter to land in Forward Bases at Siachen which has not been achieved by any other helicopter in the world. LCH participated in IAF’s Iron Fist 2016 exercise in March 2016 and displayed its rocket firing capabilities in its weaponised configuration. HAL has now embarked upon the Limited Series Production (LSP) programme for LCH. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by defence minister has cleared procurement of 15 LCH in Limited Series Production (LSP) - 10 for IAF and five for the Indian Army.

IMRH at the show
IMRH at the show

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