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Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH)
Medium Lift Helicopter (MLH)

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has proposed development of a Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) of 3 ton class and Medium Lift Helicopter (MLH) of 10 ton class to complete the full range of helicopters. The 5-tonne multi-purpose advanced light helicopter Dhruv is a mature product and the light combat helicopter LCH is on the design board. The "10 ton class" nomenclature references the maximum liftoff weight of the helicopter. The advanced light helicopter program cost around Rs 500 crore and the 10-ton medium-lift helicopter program would surpass it.

During 2005-2006 Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) set the ball rolling for the design, development and manufacture of a 10-ton class multi-role helicopter for the services. The project would be undertaken in collaboration with a reputed foreign company. By mid-2007 Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was reported to have invited proposals from international partners including Russian helicopter manufacturer for co-development of Multi-role Helicopter (10 tonnes). It would be able to lift cargo and troops to high-altitude regions in the Himalayas and the North Eastern parts of the country. HAL said that the 10-tonne helicopter, which will be similar to the MI-17 of the Russians, will be jointly developed with a yet to be identified foreign collaborator.

10-tonne Medium-Lift Helicopter

In January 2007 it was reported that Russia was set to unroll its new high-altitude light helicopter gunships and had offered its co-development to India as a package deal, which could also forsee cooperation in building 10-tonne-class choppers. The offer came as Russia was also ready to unveil its new Kamaov-60 and next generation 10-tonne-class MI helicopters, which can be used as heavy lift troop carriers. "We know Indian Air Force's urgent requirements for 10-ton-class helicopters and we have conveyed our readiness for joint development through establishment of joint holding company," Givi Dzhandzhgava, Director General of the Ramenskoi Design company, told reporters.

Eurocopter has a comprehensive range of helicopters, like the Armed Reconnaissance & Observation AS 550C3 Fennec and its naval version, the twin engine AS555SP, together with the state of the art multi role 10 ton class EC725 in a highly sophisticated Combat SAR (CSAR) configuration.

In February 2008 Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd said it expected to roll out its next premier project, the development of the 10-tonne medium-lift helicopter project during the year. HAL prefers a partnership only to cut down the development time so that it can bring out a product in 5-6 years. It was awaiting the final word from the Ministry of Defence on the mode of acquiring a copter of this class: whether to produce them entirely at home or buy some and make some under licence or import them outright as per the Defence Procurement Policy 2006. Pending the verdict, the defence public enterprise had zeroed in on a potential equal partner and expects to launch the work by mid-2008.

In September 2008 Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) announced that it would soon develop a 10-tonne class helicopter for the armed forces and was searching for foreign partners either from Russia or a France-based company. The Defence Public Sector Undertaking (DPSU) planned to carry out the medium-lift helicopter programme in partnership with a foreign manufacturer. "We plan to develop and build 10-tonne class helicopters in partnership with either the Eurocopter or the Russians. We are yet to finalise the partner for the programme, which would be done in the next few months," HAL Chairman Ashok Baweja told PTI. Eurocopter and a Russian company hade been shortlisted by HAL in its search for a partner in the helicopter development programme. "We would zero in on our partner in next few months. This would be a joint venture between the selected company and HAL," Baweja said.

The DPSU had plans of producing around 350 helicopters in the 10-tonne class, keeping in view the market for medium-lift helicopters in the armed forces. "We are hoping that the helicopter would be inducted by all the three services," he said. HAL will be looking at the export potential of the helicopters also, as it would be developed with a foreign company. "We also are looking at exporting the chopper. This will happen, as we would be working with the foreign partner," Baweja added.

By 2009 HAL was working on a 12-ton class Indian Multi-Role Helicopter, based on estimates that India had a requirement of 290 such machines. HAL was concentrating on helicopter design and production, and had established a separate helicopter complex within the company, with a separate managing director.



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