According to official Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) sources, the company has embarked on the concept and configuration studies of the Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH) of the 13-ton medium lift class. The IMRH is being designed and developed to progressively replace the Mi-17 variants being used by the Indian Air Force and Army. In finalising configuration of the IMRH, a 1:10 scale wind tunnel model will be tested to ascertain the basic aerodynamic characteristics of the helicopter.

India's aircraft manufacturing monopoly HAL had submitted a Preliminary Project Report (PPR) in Feb 2020 for sanction of Government funds for the development of the Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH), which is being pitched as a one-stop replacement for Mi-17, Kamov and Sea King fleets of the Indian Air Force and Navy. The Defence PSU has sought a 10-year timeline for the development of the multi-role helicopter. 

The IMRH concept is being aggressively pitched to the MoD as a replacement to the existing medium lift helicopters such as Mi-17's, Kamovs and SeaKing helicopters. The Government has aimed at developing an alternate private sector aviation complex through multi-billion dollar acquisitions beginning with the Naval Utility Helicopter (NUH) program (Strategic Partner Concept), this is being seen as an aggressive move by HAL to protect its turf from foreign and Indian private sector competition.

The design of a 13 Ton IMRH was taken up to meet the requirement of the Indian Defence Services. Dedicated versions to meet the requirements of Airforce / Army as well as Navy are planned. The helicopter will be powered by twin engines and will feature blade folding option for ship deck operations. The intended roles of IMRH are to support air assault, air transport, combat logistics, combat search & rescue and casualty evacuation operations.

It was earlier reported that the MRH project costs are expected to breach the Rs 10,000 crore mark, will have several unique aspects, including a design that will allow it to operate with two different engines so that it does not remain dependent on any one source.

The scale of initial investments needed is particularly high as the program will include multiple destruction tests to prove the sturdiness of the design before it can be certified for military use and it has to match up at least to the Russian origin Mi 17V5 that is intended to be replaced. There is an urgency to process the permissions by this year, given that a six-year developmental timeline is expected. This would ensure that the indigenous chopper will be ready by 2027-2028, when the air force has to start replacing its fleet of imported Mi-17s that will reach the end of service life.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) CMD R Madhavan had earlier said that a different developmental model is in the works for the most ambitious Indian helicopter plan yet. “For the IMRH, we are looking at having two separate engine options. The power requirement is high but manufacturers in France, Russia and the US have suitable engines,” he said, adding that the idea is not to remain captive to just one source that can drive up prices later once the chopper is ready for service.

The program will require a heavy duty engine in the 2500 horsepower range that will need to be manufactured locally, given the potential orders in mind. The leading Indian aeronautical company will also need foreign collaboration for the project and will be going in for a risk-sharing model where vendors will help during the developmental project.

Tata Elxsi designed and built the latest Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH) engineered mock-up for Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which showcased at the Aero India in Bangalore.

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