Home' Defence Review Asia : DRA May-June 2017 Contents 20 DefenceReviewAsia | MAY/JUNE 2017
more than 6 400 metres, allowing for operations
in the Himalayas, and a range of 350 km. Cruising
speed will be around 220 km/h. The Ardiden-1U
engine is due to be EASA certified in 2018 but HAL
is working on the 1200 kW Hindustan Turbo-Shaft
Engine (HTSE) 1200 to power the LUH, as well as
the Dhruv, Rudra and LCH in an effort to improve
HAL says the LUH is designed to carry out various
utility roles such as reconnaissance, transport, cargo
load and rescue operations, but future variants could
be built for combat and carry a podded gun, rockets
and anti-tank missiles.
In addition to indigenous production by HAL, India
will produce Russian helicopters under license in
a roughly US $1 billion deal in line with the Make
in India policy. In early April, Russia approved a
joint venture for the production of Kamov Ka-226T
light helicopters for the Indian military after delays
over cost concerns. India had in September 2016
agreed to acquire more than 200 Ka-226Ts,
powered by Turbomeca Arrius 2G1 turboshafts, for
the Army and Air Force.
Of the 200 helicopters, 60 will be delivered from
Russia from 2019 while the remainder will be built
by the new joint venture which will be 50.5% owned
by HAL, 42.5% by Russian Helicopters and 7% by
Rostec. However, around 40 of the latter will be in
Previous aviation-related joint ventures with
India have run into trouble, with the transport
and fighter aircraft projects with Russia suffering
major delays and cost escalation. India has also
complained of being left out of the decision-
The Ka-226Ts, along with the LUH, will replace
some of the roughly 120 HAL-built Cheetahs (SA
315B Lama) and 60 Chetaks (Alouette III) serving
with the Army and 70 Chetaks and 30 Cheetahs
with the Air Force. Mainly due to delays with the
LUH, the Army has received a dozen more powerful,
armed Lancer versions of the Chetak, and several
dozen Cheetals (Cheetahs with TM333-2M2
engines). The Air Force has also received a small
number of Cheetals.
Chetaks and Cheetahs have been the light utility
workhorses of all three branches of the military for
four decades. So far HAL has produced around
340 Chetaks and 250 Cheetahs. Many of these
have been exported to countries like Afghanistan
(three Cheetals), Bangladesh (three Chetaks),
Namibia (three Cheetahs and four Chetaks), Nepal
(four Chetaks, two Cheetahs, and ten Lancers),
Seychelles (three Chetaks), and Suriname (three
Chetaks). Many of these exports were aid or
financed by India.
HAL recently launched another helicopter project,
the Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH), which was
officially unveiled at the Aero India show in February.
HAL aims to develop the 12-ton class helicopter
to compete with the Mi-17 and Super Puma and
envisages the rotorcraft having a service ceiling of
6000 m and payload of 3500 kg or 24 passengers.
Maximum speed will be around 275 km/h, cruising
speed 230 km/h and range 500 km, or 800 km with
HAL is aiming the IMRH at the Indian military
saying it will be suited to troop transport, casualty
evacuation, cargo transport, search and rescue, VIP
transport (with seating for 18), and naval warfare.
A high service ceiling is specified for the military
version – HAL will also target export orders.
Although HAL presented a full-scale mockup
of the IMRH at Aero India, the company is still
finalising the design, but says it will be equipped
with an automatic flight control system, glass
cockpit for two crew, five-bladed main rotor and
self-sealing fuel tanks.
An RFI for 2200 kW class twin engines is
expected before July 2017. HAL previously stated
it was looking for an international partner to speed
up development some ten years ago but appears
to be going it alone this time. The new rotorcraft is
expected to fly around 2018-19 and be operational
in six to eight years’ time.
In the meantime, the Indian Air Force will replace
its Mi-26 heavy lift helicopters with 15 CH-47F
Chinooks with deliveries around 2018. The Air Force
is also upgrading 90 Mi-17 helicopters with new
avionics and self-protection systems. Around 130
Mi-8/17s are in service along with 90 Mi-17-IVs and
139 Mi-17-V5s. In September 2015 India cleared the
Air Force to buy another 48 Mi-17-V -5s.
India’s plans for a multitude of indigenous
helicopters are certainly ambitious, and maybe
excessively so. Developing four helicopters almost
concurrently is a mammoth task, never mind
supporting and maintaining them, and delays, cost
overruns and technical problems are not unexpected.
If HAL can get it right, its various rotorcraft will
be a great boon to the Indian military as well as a
good source of revenue via exports. However, the
Indian armed forces are taking a cautious approach,
hedging their bets and opting for both indigenous
and foreign designs.
The Indian Army has criticised the delay in the Helina’s development,
which means both the Rudra and LCH have no anti-tank missiles yet –
the Army wants to acquire either Pars 3 or Spike missiles from overseas.
Naval Dhruv. (HAL photo)
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