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​AERO INDIA: HAL works to define large, multi-role helicopter

Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) has completed preliminary design work on a family of large helicopters that could replace the Indian army’s Mil Mi-8 and Mi-17 rotorcraft, and potentially be used for naval applications.

The Indian Multi-Role Helicopter would come in two distinct variants, the 12.5t IMRH Army/Air Force and the 11.3t IMRH Navy.

While the pair would share a common rotor, transmission, and engine, the army version would have a larger fuselage capable of accommodating 24 troops.

The naval version would also feature an automatically folding tail and main rotor, making it suitable for extended use aboard warships, and a deck-lock harpoon. Missions for this variant would include anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and special operations.

A company official declines to comment on whether the IMRH Navy would be pitched for New Delhi’s 123-unit Naval Multirole Helicopter competition, which is seeking an aircraft with a maximum take-off weight of under 12.5t. At the 2017 Aero India show, HAL displayed a full-sized mock-up of the IMRH, but configured for civilian use.

This year, HAL showed a technology demonstrator of its Dhruv-derived Naval Utility Helicopter, which features an automatic tail and main rotor folding system. A coastguard variant also appeared on the event's static display, equipped for casualty evacuation missions.

HAL is also working on a prospective small pilotless helicopter, the Rotary Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (RUAV). An unarmed rotorcraft, the RUAV is designed to operate fully autonomously for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions, carrying a 20kg (44lb) payload with a 6h endurance.

The RUAV is intended for both ship-borne and overland missions. HAL has not committed to fully developing the RUAV, but the Indian navy has an interest in small unmanned aircraft that can be deployed from its fleet.

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