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

The Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH) aims to replace the Mi 17 class of helicopters that are in wide use in India and abroad. HAL has proposed that the platform needs to have an all-up weight of 13 metric tons, a maximum speed of 275-km/h and a service ceiling of 22,000 ft. The Indian military wants the helicopter to have a payload capacity of 3,500-kg and range of 500-km at sea level.

The requirement to provide intimate tactical support to the field formations has resulted in the need to induct helicopters of 10-12 ton class. This helicopter should have the capability to lift 3.5 to 4 tons of cargo or at least 24 combat troops at sea level with multi role capability. This Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH) or Tactical Battle Support Helicopter (TBSH) will have limited armament capability and self-protection and will be used by day and night in all weather conditions.

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.

12-ton class Indian Multi Role Helicopter (IMRH)

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.

For 5 days from 14th February to the 18th, 2017, there was were dazzling displays at Aero India, the biennial aerospace exhibition organized by the Department of Defence Production of the Ministry of Defence, Government of India in the Garden City of Bengaluru. The Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar unveiled the full scale mock-up of 12-ton class Indian Multi Role Helicopter (IMRH) which HAL aims to indigenously develop. The first full-scale model of the IMRH was unveiled by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar at the AeroIndia show -- a 24-seater 12-tonne class chopper with roles varying from tactical troop transport, offshore operations, VVIP transport and a special capability to operate at high altitudes.

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 Avionic Systems, etc. to meet the Utility and Armed Roles of Indian Armed Forces. The Indian Multi-Role Helicopter would come in two distinct variants, the 12.5t IMRH Army/Air Force and the 11.3t IMRH Navy. While the pair would share a common rotor, transmission, and engine, the army version would have a larger fuselage capable of accommodating 24 troops. The naval version would also feature an automatically folding tail and main rotor, making it suitable for extended use aboard warships.

HAL on 04 February 2021, unveiled publicly for the first time their conceptualised and benchmarked twin-engine, 13-tonne, multi-role, multi-mission, medium-lift helicopter. The Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH) was HALs big opportunity to shine in a space hitherto monopolised by the Russian origin, workhorse legacy helicopter, the Mi-17, that is currently used by the Indian Air Force in large numbers. With government sanction for the medium-lift helicopter is slated to come in months, HAL expected the rotary wing platform to be flying and ready for certification in seven to eight years from sanction. The powerplant will come from a foreign original equipment manufacturer, with HAL currently in talks with two major European engine houses. The helicopter, depending on its configuration, is designed to transport 24 or 36 troops.

There were as of 2021 around 240 Mi-17 helicopters of three variants operating in the inventory of the Indian Air Force, helicopters which, starting from 2028, will be progressively phased out. The Air Force has indicated a replacement requirement of 250 helicopters in the medium-lift category. The Army, which at present does not have any medium-lift helicopters in its inventory, has also indicated a demand of around 170 medium-lift helicopters, calling them Tactical Battlefield Support helicopters. The Navy, which operates 63 medium helicopters, has indicated a demand of 123 such helicopters. HAL projected a total requirement of 314 helicopters for the armed forces 200 for the Air Force, 100 for the Army and 14 for the Navy totalling an expenditure of around Rs.78,500 crore, with a further Rs.62,800 crore accruing by way of spares support over the life of these helicopters.

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Page last modified: 06-06-2021 18:16:00 ZULU