Finance & MarketsFrench Safran to develop an engine for HAL IMRH 13-tonne helicopter

French Safran to develop an engine for HAL IMRH 13-tonne helicopter

French Safran Helicopter Engines and India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) have signed an agreement to create a joint venture to develop helicopter engines.

Safran Helicopter Engines and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) have signed an agreement to create a new joint venture to develop helicopter engines. Through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the two partners will extend the scope of their cooperation with the creation of a new company in India intended for the development, production, sale and support of helicopters. One of its key objectives is to meet the needs of future helicopters for HAL and the Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and, in particular, the IMRH (Indian Multi Role Helicopter), a 13-tonne helicopter.

HAL IMRH

HAL is developing a twin-engine, multi-role, multi-mission helicopter of about 13 tons, known as the Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH).

This helicopter is intended to replace the various variants of Russian Mi -17 helicopters that are the main toilers of the Indian Air Force (IAF), which operates around 250 of them in total.

The phasing out of earlier versions of these helicopters is due to begin around 2028, with the latest version, Mi -17V5 (in service since 2011), being the last to be retired.

The HAL is looking for a helicopter that will have more endurance than the Mi -17s and intends to market them for a wide variety of operations, including transport, VVIP travel, and search and rescue, among others, the sources said.

The HAL also plans to manufacture a medium-weight American Apache category combat helicopter in the future, currently in service with the IAF. HAL will also market a naval variant to the Indian Navy, which also needs medium-weight helicopters.

Beyond the Shakti Engine Partnership 

This joint venture project illustrates once again the commitment of Safran Helicopter Engines and HAL to the vision of the Indian government’s multi-decade efforts to achieve sovereignty in defense technologies. Safran Helicopter Engines and HAL are already partners on the Ardiden 1 based Shakti engine that powers HAL helicopters, including the Dhruv, the Rudra and the light combat helicopter (LCH). Ardiden 1H powers ALH Dhruv, Addiden 1H1 is used in the LCH and the Ardiden 1U variant powers the new Light Utility Helicopter (LUH). To date, 500 Shakti engines have been produced. The HE-MRO joint venture in Goa will provide MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) services for TM333 and Shakti engines in service with the Indian Armed Forces. The company will be operational by the end of 2023.

Aneto-1K Engine

The new engine to be developed for IMRH is expected to be based on the Aneto-1K engine. The Aneto family is designed to power super-medium and heavy helicopters and covers a power range from 2500 to 3000 shp, which is also the HAL’s power requirement for IMRH. The Aneto-1K is the first model from Aneto, and its power output is 2,500 shp. As per Safran, Aneto-1K is certified after an intensive test campaign of more than 5000 hours on the ground and in flight. Aneto engines are 25% more powerful than existing motors of the same category. Aneto engines offer increased performance during flights in “hot and high” conditions (high temperature and high altitude) due to greater power margins in transient states. Their maintenance has been optimized because of a reduced number of tasks and more spaced out in time, but also with connected features such as “health monitoring” (predictive maintenance).

HAL plans to use a larger share of Indian products in the project. 

Three more non Helicopter engine factories 

Safran, on July 7, inaugurated in Bangalore on behalf of Safran HAL Aircraft Engines, the 50/50 joint venture between Safran Aircraft Engines and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. This new site, which replaces the initial established dating from 2005, doubles the surface area and benefits from the most modern facilities. The new factory is located in the “Special Economic Zone” near Bangalore airport. This 11,000 m2 site specializes in manufacturing complex pipes, mainly for the CFM LEAP engine, and employs around 150 people.

Two adjoining factories were inaugurated on July 7 in Hyderabad for Safran Aircraft Engines and Safran Electrical & Power activities. The first site, with an area of ​​15,000 square meters and which will eventually employ 275 people, is dedicated to producing rotating parts for the LEAP engine of CFM, a 50/50 joint venture between Safran Aircraft Engines and GE. 

The LEAP engine, the best-selling commercial aircraft engine of its generation, and its predecessor, the CFM56, now power more than 330 Airbus A320/A320neo and Boeing 737/737MAX airliners in the Indian subcontinent, and more than 1,500 LEAP engines are currently on order in the region. 

A maintenance, repair and overhaul workshop for LEAP engines will be built nearby. This workshop, whose start-up is scheduled for 2025, will be the largest in the network, with a maintenance capacity of 250 to 300 engines per year. 

The Safran Electrical & Power site is located in the same airport area and shares all support functions with Safran Aircraft Engines. It is dedicated to the production of cables for LEAP engines and harnesses for Rafales. The site will eventually employ 200 people. 

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