Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the first time flew its entire fleet of helicopters from its stables at a public event during the flight display as part of the inaugural of Aero India 2017 on Tuesday. But the one that did not fly was the mammoth Indian Multirole Helicopter (IMRH), which is still in the planning stages, although a full-size (1:1 scale) model in its stall at the Aero India 2017 kept attracting foreign and Indian business delegates by the droves through the day.
Bengaluru-headquartered HAL is awaiting clearance of a proposal sent to the Union government to start developing the 12.5 tonne helicopter, at an estimated project cost of Rs 3,000 crore, which would roughly take six years to complete, officials from HAL’s rotary wing research & design centre told Bangalore Mirror. The IMRH is being designed to cater to multiple roles – to tactically transport troops and vehicles in battle conditions; as an air ambulance; in anti-insurgency/anti-terrorist operations when equipped with weapons; in anti-submarine warfare; in search, rescue and evacuation; to transport cargo; and also to transport VIPs and VVIPs.
“If this chopper was ready with us, the entire contingent that took part in the surgical strike in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir after the September 18 Uri attack could have easily been dropped and lifted by this single helicopter with all the gear and weapons,” one of the officials said.
The model kept at the HAL stall at Aero India 2017 was the one designed for VVIPs, which – excluding the two pilots – can luxuriously accommodate eight persons; the same for VIPs is 18 (excluding the two pilots in both cases); while at least 24-strong battle contingent can be seated comfortably in the cabin that measures 5.7 metres in length, 2.1 metres wide and 1.9 metres high.
The helicopter is planned to fly up to altitudes of 6,500 metres with a flight range of 500 km, and 800 Km with external fuel tanks, the HAL officials said.
The 12.5 tonne IMRH is three to five times heavier than the already existing HAL-made helicopters like Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) (both in 3-tonne-class), Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv (civilian version), ALH Rudra (for Indian Army and Indian Air Force), and ALH Mark III (for Navy and Coast Guard)(all 5-tonne-class) – all of which flew in the flight display during the inaugural session of Aero India 2017.
HAL officials are confident of the proposal being given the go-ahead, especially after defence minister said on Tuesday: “Last two years has seen HAL put in a lot of efforts and has managed to get the project timelines correct, and is coming out with a series of projects.”