Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is seeking a partner in the Indian private sector for the joint development of the Indian multi-role helicopters (IMRH), reported Economic Times.

According to the report, HAL CMD C B Ananthakrishnan in an interview expressed hope that the HAL will complete the development work of IMRH and deck based-MRH in six to seven years.

He said, "It is a 12 tonne category helicopter, which has never been done in India before. The project timelines are very short and we need to come up with the helicopter within six to seven years. Things now are moving very fast."

The HAL CMD also provided some details of the program, outlining that the IMRH project is categorised into three sections — airframe, avionics, and accessories.

Development work across all these categories will occur concurrently to meet the ambitious timeline of six to seven years.

He clarified that HAL is actively seeking Indian private sector companies to join in for joint development from the design stage itself.

Furthermore, HAL is likely to collaborate with major foreign helicopter manufacturers such as Airbus or Sikorsky to design and develop the transmission and rotor system of the 12-tonne helicopter.

Additionally, HAL has entered a partnership with French engine-maker Safran for the development of a turboshaft engine to power IMRH and DB-MRH.

This collaboration was announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to France as the Chief Guest of France's Bastille Day celebrations.

It's worth noting that HAL and Safran have already signed a work-share agreement during Aero India 2023 in February 2023, to jointly develop an entirely new clean-sheet turboshaft engine for IMRH and DB-MRH.

Both companies will hold equal equity in the joint venture company and will share intellectual property rights (IPR) of the engine equally.

According to the report, HAL CMD Ananthakrishnan explained that the design work of the engines will commence within the next three months.

"We have entered into a shareholders agreement and the joint venture with Safran will be in place within the next three months. It will be a joint development and IPR (intellectual property rights) will remain within the country (India)," he said.

The IMRH is a 12-ton helicopter being developed in India to replace the older Russian Mi-17 helicopters in the inventories of the Indian Air Force and Indian Army.

On the other hand, the DB-MRH will be the naval variant for the Indian Navy, designed for sea operations from the decks of aircraft carriers and warships.