India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) claims its upcoming heavy-lift multi-role helicopters can be “benchmarked” against the best choppers in the world. Meant for the Indian armed forces, it is a twin-engine rotorcraft that would be available by 2028.
The Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH) has been designed by HAL in such a manner that it fulfills roles including supporting air assault, air transport, VIP transport, combat logistics such as troop transport, combat search and rescue, and casualty evacuation operations.
According to reports, the advanced helicopter will have a maximum take-off weight of 13 tons and could be able to carry up to 36 troops in a high-density configuration.
As per estimates made by HAL, there has been a domestic requirement for up to 314 units across the Indian Air Force, Army, and Navy.
Although India is the main customer for the helicopters, HAL says that it has “designed the helicopter with the global market in mind” and has “benchmarked” them against five current heavy-class rotorcraft.
These include the Airbus Helicopters H225M, the Leonardo Helicopters AW101, the Mi-17, the NH Industries NH90, and the Sikorsky S-92 helicopters.
“In every aspect of our design we have benchmarked against the best features available on these helicopters,” says HAL.
While it has predominantly looked as a replacement for the Mi-17 helicopters, HAL believes it will draw export orders for the new helicopter.
The progress of the new helicopters was provided in detail by HAL at the just-concluded Aero India 2021 show.
According to HAL, the rotorcraft has already passed the preliminary design review stage, paving way for the freezing of its configuration within six months of getting the go-ahead from the Indian Defence Ministry. The procedure is expected to be finalized by the end of the current year or by early 2022.
HAL says it is likely to produce three to four flying prototypes, plus ground- and structural-test articles. The development process will take seven years.
The first flight of the IMRH is expected to take place four years after New Delhi’s green-light. This will be followed by an operational clearance of a basic utility variant for the Indian army after 24 months of testing, which will then be followed by an armed variant a year later.
The helicopter is reported to have 75 percent domestic content, featuring a five-blade main rotor and four-blade, bearingless tail rotor, composite fuselage, and glass cockpit.
However, HAL reveals that the IMRH’s engines will be sourced from a Western manufacturer for which two companies have already been asked for proposals for 2,800shp (2,000kW)-class powerplants.
The entire transmission of the helicopter including the main and tail rotor gearboxes, plus the avionics and digital automatic flight controls, will be produced by HAL.
According to reports, the helicopter’s payload at sea level will be 4 tons, which will fall to 1.5 tons at an altitude of 13,000 feet.
The helicopter’s range has been predicted to be around 430nm (800km), with a top speed of 161kt (300km/h).