Indian defence minister unveils new multi-role helicopter


Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on 15 February unveiled a full-scale mock-up of the new Indian Multi Role Helicopter (IMRH) during the 11th edition of Aero India.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) aims to develop the 12-ton class helicopter to compete with the Russian Mi-17 and French Super Puma families.

The IMRH will have a service ceiling of around 20,000 feet, a 3,500 kg payload and a seating capacity of 24. The major roles to be performed are tactical troop transport, casualty evacuation, under slung load, combat search and rescue, anti-surface operations, off-shore operations, VIP/VVIP transport and air ambulance, HAL said. The Army/IAF version will have a significant hovering and payload capability especially at high altitude.

The proposed IMRH will be powered by twin engines (to be identified), equipped with an automatic flight control system, state-of-the-art mission systems, advanced cockpit display and avionic systems, etc. to meet the utility and armed roles of the Indian armed forces. A dedicated naval variant is also planned.

Besides domestic defence orders, HAL will target export orders, aiming to replace the ageing fleets of helicopters that are operational in more than 40 Air Forces around the world.

Aero India 2017 is currently underway at Air Force Station, Yelahanka in Bengaluru. This edition of Aero India, for the first time, combines the defence and civil aviation segments into a holistic event with the co involvement of the defence and civil aviation ministries in the event, the Indian Ministry of Defence said.

During his inaugural address, Parrikar said that this edition of Aero India would witness the emerging dynamism of defence manufacturing in India, especially the rising role of Indian defence industry. He further stated that the government is committed to creating an enabling environment for a domestic ecosystem of defence manufacturing, the results of which were already visible.

He added, “The defence public sector undertakings are being revitalized and encouraged. Government has also taken several initiatives for ease of doing business for private firms and additional initiatives are underway to support the role of private sector in defence manufacturing”.

Minister for Civil Aviation, Shri P Ashok Gajapathi Raju speaking at the occasion highlighted that India was the fastest growing aviation sector in passenger terms in the world and held tremendous potential to graduate from the present position of being ninth in the world to being the third largest by 2022.

This edition of Aero India has to its credit the first ever public display of HAL’s Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) and the handing over by DRDO of the first indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&CS) aircraft, the Embraer ERJ-145, in the Initial Operational Clearance configuration to the Indian Air Force.

The Air Show witnessed a fly past by the Make in India formation consisting of HTT-40, Hawk-i, Dornier-228, Su-30MKI and the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft. This was followed by the fighters tearing through the skies displaying a host of aerobatic manoeuvres – the Su 30 MKI followed by Sweden’s SAAB Gripen, Tejas LCA, the American F-16 Falcon and the French Rafale.

The Yakovlev aerobatic team, the Skycats, the Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team and the Sarang helicopter display team enthralled the spectators with their performance. Another unique feature of this air show was the 20-minute sortie by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, who flew in the Tejas LCA Trainer during the day.

This edition of Aero India sees the participation of 549 companies with 53 aircraft gracing the event. The total area of the show has grown from 24,403 sq m to 27,678 sq m this year