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India’s ambitious 13-ton Utility Helicopter program, known as IMRH (Indian Multi-Role Helicopter), is set to be executed through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) model. This approach involves the formation of a new consortium that will assume responsibility for production, sales, maintenance, repair, and future upgrades. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the state-owned aerospace company, has been engaging in discussions with several private sector companies that possess the potential to contribute to the program.

Under the SPV model, HAL will maintain a minority stake in the newly formed consortium, with two private sector companies likely to assume leadership roles. The consortium’s primary objective will be to address the potential demand for 400 units of the IMRH from the Indian Armed Forces, as these helicopters are intended to replace the ageing Russian Mi-17 helicopters. By establishing a robust production line, the consortium aims to cater to the requirements of the armed forces for at least two decades.

While a formal announcement regarding the consortium is expected by the end of next year or early 2025, the developmental trials for the IMRH will be conducted by HAL. However, the actual production of the IMRH helicopters will be undertaken by the new consortium starting from the 2028-29 timeframe.

The adoption of the SPV model for the IMRH program represents a significant step in enhancing private-sector participation in India’s defence manufacturing sector. It allows for collaboration between state-owned and private entities, leveraging the strengths and expertise of both sectors. This approach also promotes the concept of self-reliance in defence manufacturing and paves the way for advanced technological capabilities within the country.

The IMRH program holds immense strategic importance for India’s armed forces, as it aims to address their requirements for a versatile and capable utility helicopter. The involvement of private sector companies in the consortium will not only boost domestic manufacturing capabilities but also contribute to job creation and economic growth.

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