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Aero India 2017: HAL unveils multi-role helicopter
Mockup of Indian Multi Role Helicopter (IMRH). © HAL

Aero India 2017: HAL unveils multi-role helicopter

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is showing a full-scale mockup of its proposed Indian Multi Role Helicopter (IMRH) at the show. The mockup was unveiled by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on 15th February.

HAL aims to indigenously develop the 12t-class IMRH, which will be designed to offer a service ceiling of around 20,000 feet, 3,500kg payload and seating capacity of 24. The major roles to be performed are tactical troop transport, casualty evacuation, sling load transportation, combat search & rescue, anti-surface operations, off-shore operations, VIP/VVIP transport and air ambulance.

The proposed IMRH will be powered by twin engines (to be identified) and equipped with an automatic flight control system, state-of-the-art mission systems, advanced cockpit display and avionics, etc. to meet the utility and armed roles of the Indian armed forces. A dedicated naval variant is also planned.

HAL says it will also target export orders, aiming to replace the ageing fleet of similar helicopters — such as the Russian Mi-17 and French Super Puma — operational in more than 40 air forces around the world.

The IMRH proposal seems to be the latest chapter in a long and winding saga stretching back several years and including programmes such as the Twin Engine Heavy Helicopter (TEHH), Multi Role Helicopter (MRH) and Naval Multi Role Helicopter (NMRH). The latter programme — theoretically covering a requirement for 123 machines — had attracted bids from Airbus Helicopters (EC225/H225) and NHIndustries (NH90NFH). The NMRH programme is also one of the targets for Airbus Helicopters’ joint venture with Mahindra Defence.

The Indian firm’s Bengaluru facility is already producing parts for the AS565 MBe Panther, which is on offer for India's Naval Utility Helicopter programme.

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