India Designs Its Own Helicopters Along With Safran From France
France – In a bid to push the “Make in India” initiative, the state-run company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and the French firm Safran are in talks to jointly and indigenously manufacture a new engine that will power India’s plans to have its own medium-weight military helicopters.
The new alliance is bid to replace the Russian Mi-17 transport helicopters in the next few years. Also, there is a possibility of developing a new chopper like the American Apache. As per the sources from the government, the newly developed engines will be able to power different types of medium-weight helicopters that the HAL is working on to meet the demand of the Air Force, Navy, and Army.
Commenting on the same the Defence minister Rajnath Singh said that the discussion on manufacturing new engines took place during his talks with the French minister Florence Party last week. As per sources, the main point of discussion with the French minister was to either collaborate with Indian companies or simply produce in India.
“I am happy to say that the French government has agreed that a big French company will come to India and produce an engine, currently not made in the country, under the strategic partnership with an Indian company,” he had said at the seminar organized by FICCI.
Although it is still not clear whether the investments made by Safran will be offset to complete as a part of the Rafale deal. HUL’s current products are the LCH (Light Combat Helicopter) and the multi-role ALH (Advanced Light Helicopter), besides the Chetak choppers. The ALH and the LCH are powered by Ardiden 1H1 Shakti, co-developed by HAL and Safran, under the licensed manufacturing by HAL, where-as the new engine will be made under the strategic partnership, which will involve the transfer of technology.
As shared by the sources in the defense ministry, currently HAL is working on a twin-engine, multi-role, multi-mission chopper of about 13-tonne weightage, known as the Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH). This model is meant to replace the various variants of Russian Mi-17 helicopters.
The Indian Airforce has deployed 250 of these helicopters The earlier version of helicopters will be phased out in a gradual manner starting from 2028, with the latest versions, Mi-17 V5 (inducted since 2011), to be the last to be phased out. The current requirements by the HAL will of helicopters for use for a wide variety of operations, including transport, VVIP travel, search and rescue besides others, the sources said and have more endurance than the Mi-17s. The new helicopters will also meet the need of Indian Navy, which is also looking out for medium weight choppers.