State-owned behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is hopeful of flying its future multi-role helicopter, a mock-up of which was unveiled at the just-concluded Aero India here, by 2019 — but the engine for it has not yet been finalised. Finer details of the chopper, which will be the biggest rotary-wing aircraft ever made by India, will be finalised only after specifications are received from the users to develop the different versions that are planned.
The HAL, which boasts of building a series of helicopters like the Dhruv Advanced Light helicopter (ALH), the weaponised Rudra ALH, a Light Combat Helicopter and the latest Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), has embarked on the mission to make an Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH), with a 12-tonne lift capacity, to reduce the dependance on imports for this category.
The mock-up presented at the Aero India 2017 is based largely on the Russian Mi-17, and HAL plans to develop four versions of it for the three Services and for civilian use.
An HAL official, who did not want to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media, said the chopper should be flying by 2018-19. After that, trials and customer acceptance may take seven to eight years. However, asked about the engine that is planned to be used in the chopper, the official said it has yet to be decided.
He also said specifications are needed from the users to finetune the design. “Requirements need to come from the users. Right now we have designed the mock-up on the lines of the Mi-17,” he said.
“Once this helicopter is ready, we will not need to go out and buy helicopters. So far we have largely depended on the Russian Mi-17s,” the official said.
He added that a lot of interest has been expressed in the chopper by delegates from several countries, apart from the Indian forces.
“They are amazed by the mock-up, every one is surprised that HAL is doing it,” the official said. The chopper can seat 24 troops or 12 passengers. It is 5.7 metres long, 2.1 metres wide and 1.9 metres high.
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The chopper will be equipped with automatic flight control system, state-of-the-art mission systems, and advanced cockpit display and avionic system.