Private Sector Push for Indian Multi Role Helicopter (IMRH) Development

The Defence Ministry has decided to amend the Defence Acquisition Procedure manual to allow the private sector to collaborate with an Indian Defense PSU in the development and manufacture of the Indian Multi Role Helicopter (IMRH) which will eventually replace all Russian-built Mi-17 and Mi-8 helicopters in the Indian military’s current inventory.

This decision is part of a major push to “Atmanirbhar Bharat” in the military hardware sector. The IMRH which will perform with the Indian armed forces in air assault, air attack, anti submarine, anti ship, military transport, and VVIP tasks, will have a takeoff weight of 13 tons.

On July 8, 2022, the French firm Safran and the Indian company HAL signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a new joint venture company to develop, build, and service the IMRH engine, including the naval variant. The private sector enterprises would also be permitted to export 25% of their production to third countries, generating foreign cash for the nation, according to officials.

The designed IMRH, which is scheduled to go into production over the next seven years, must be purchased by the Indian Armed Forces. The private sector companies have also asked the Defense Ministry for a guarantee that the Indian armed forces will buy the helicopter if it is produced in the next five years by speeding up processes and saving money & man hours.

The private sector was given permission to buy a 51 percent ownership and form a joint venture with Indian PSUs as a result of the latter’s inability to complete projects on time and without incurring additional costs. The Modi government was left with little choice except to purchase the urgently needed machines from other nations through a tender or government-to-government method as a result of this delay.

The first anti-submarine warfare Sirkorsky MH-60R Seahawk helicopters are anticipated to arrive in India by the end of this year, while the IMRH is anticipated to begin production in five to seven years. Although San Diego Naval Station in the US has already sent the first two or three helicopters to the Indian Navy for training, the remaining 21 helicopter deliveries will soon start in accordance with the USD 2.3 billion February 2020 agreement inked by both nations.

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