In a groundbreaking collaboration set to reshape India’s defense landscape, Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) and Safran Helicopter Engines have embarked on a mission to develop cutting-edge engines for the Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH) and its naval variant, the Deck Based Multi Role Helicopter (DBMRH). This strategic partnership, initiated in 2022, holds immense promise and is poised to be a game changer for India’s military capabilities. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi prepares for his visit to Paris, let’s delve into the significance of this venture and its potential impact on the Indian armed forces.
The HAL-Safran Partnership
The roots of this transformative endeavor can be traced back to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Safran Helicopter Engines and HAL in 2022, witnessed by Safran Global CEO Olivier Andriès and HAL’s top official. This agreement laid the foundation for the joint venture, which is not only set to meet the rigorous requirements of the Indian armed forces but also cater to the future needs of the 13-ton IMRH and its naval counterpart, DBMRH. One cannot underestimate the pivotal role that the local defense manufacturing ecosystem in India will play in this collaboration.
Design and Development in Progress
Both Safran Helicopter Engines and HAL have taken significant strides in realizing this ambitious project. A workshare agreement has already been inked for the development of engines to power the 13-ton IMRH and DBMRH. Through fruitful discussions, both parties have reached an equitable distribution of responsibilities, with HAL actively participating in the design, development, and production of core engine components. The IMRH, with its remarkable capability to take off and land at altitudes of 5 kilometers, is poised to be launched within the next four years.
Retiring the Old, Welcoming the New
These multi-role helicopters are slated to replace the aging Mi series Russian-made military helicopters currently in service with the Indian Air Force (IAF). The phasing out of these older helicopters is expected to commence by 2028-29, marking a significant transition in India’s defense capabilities. The IMRH and DBMRH are poised to usher in a new era of efficiency, agility, and advanced technology.
Maintenance and Support
Ensuring the longevity and reliability of the Safran-designed helicopter engines, a state-of-the-art facility known as Helicopter Engines MRO Pvt Limited (HE-MRO) has already been inaugurated in Goa. This facility is primed to provide maintenance services for over 1000 Safran-designed helicopter engines, a vital asset in sustaining the IMRH and DBMRH fleets. This commitment to maintenance underscores the longevity and sustainability of these cutting-edge engines.
Onboard the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier
These groundbreaking helicopters are anticipated to find their place on India’s newly inducted indigenous aircraft carrier, bolstering the nation’s maritime capabilities. The synergy between HAL and Safran Helicopter Engines extends to multiple facets of defense technology, including the Shakti engine, which powers HAL-built helicopters like the Rudra, Light Combat Helicopter, and Dhruv.