INDIA TO PURCHASE MEDIUM LIFT HELICOPTERS FROM OVERSEAS
By Bulbul Singh
27 May 09. India is to enter the world market to procure Medium Lift helicopters as the proposal to co-produce these copters with an international partner at Indian facilities has fallen apart. Sources say that the total requirement for Medium Lift helicopters is over 300. Sources in the Indian defence ministry said,”A tender will be floated this year for procurement of unspecified numbers of Medium Light Helicopters for use by the Indian Navy first.” There is also a requirement for Medium Lift Helicopters by the Indian Army, and the Indian Air Force. The Medium Lift helicopters will replace the Russian Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters.
India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, (HAL) had undertaken to design and develop Medium Lift Helicopters at its own facilities in collaboration with an international partner. The proposal for a homemade Medium Lift helicopter was cleared in late 2005 and HAL began deliberations first with Kazan Helicopters of Russia and recently with Eurocopter of France.
The foreign vendors were to bring in technologies such as rotor
assembly, the engine and transmission, and work with HAL’s design
team, which would focus on the structure and avionics.
Sources in HAL said,”The Russian company was prepared to give
transfer of technology only on some parts including the rotor
assembly, gearbox, whereas Eurocopter was prepared to strike a Joint Venture deal. However, neither of the proposals were to the satisfaction of the Indian defence ministry. The project is at a standstill, added the sources. An HAL official however said the Medium Lift helicopter project is very much intact but refused to say if an international partner had been found.
The Medium Lift helicopter will have a tonnage of 10-13 tons and a maximum speed of 275kph. It will have a payload of 3500 kilograms. The helicopter is proposed in three variants for the three services which would be modified in consultation with the user services to meet their
HAL intends to spend $400 million on design and development of
the helicopter. The unit cost of the helicopter would be $20m. HAL proposed to finalize the agreement for an international contract this year itself so that the first prototype can be rolled by 2012 and the first delivery could be made in 2014.
Last month a high level team from Eurocopter visited HAL to finalize the deal which HAL has named the project as Indian Multirole Helicopter. However, no agreement could be finalized.