The Indian Navy has joined hands with the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force for India's most ambitious indigenous helicopter development plan, reports Economic Times.

The move will provide boost to the project that intends to save a Rs 2 lakh crore import bill for military platforms in the coming years.

The Indian Army and the Air Force had already committed themselves to the project. With the Indian Navy also agreeing to join the project, India could see eventual domestic manufacturing of hundreds of indigenous medium-lift choppers to serve a variety of roles, from transporting troops to high altitude areas to anti-ship and submarine operations.

Called the Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH), the plan is said to have been progressing as per schedule. The scale model testing has already been completed successfully and the first test flight is expected by 2025-26. The next stage where the prototypes are to be built will require a fund infusion for the estimated Rs 10,000 crore into the project.

As part of the plan, six prototypes of the IMRH are to be built to prove the concept and for testing by the armed forces. Based on the success of the tests, large service orders will be placed with HAL. The development and certification programme is expected to take seven years from the day work starts on the prototype.

The said chopper is being custom-built for the forces and the naval version is likely to have bespoke design elements as well, like longer range and payload capacity. The chopper is likely to have two versions - an anti-surface and submarine role and a mission role. It would also have specialised gear for marine operations, including a sonar and sea scanner radar.