Admiral R Hari Kumar, Chief of the Naval Staff, Indian Navy speaking to Vayu Aerospace Review, said that the initial proposal of state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was for 3 separate variants of IMRH, that can be used for Special Operations, Anti Surface Warfare + Anti-Submarine Warfare but the Navy has rejected this proposal.

Navy has asked HAL to submit a fresh PPR for the development of a common multi-role helicopter with both ASW & ASuW capability that can also be used for Special Operations / Search & Rescue (SAR), Utility / Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP), and airborne mine countermeasures. HAL has agreed to work on Naval-specific IMRH that will have different design features so it can perform diverse missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, combat search and rescue, vertical replenishment, and airborne mine countermeasures. HAL acknowledges that Naval IMRH will be a much more complex and challenging project than the IMRH Variant that it plans to develop for Army and Air Force variants that are mostly will be replacing Mi-8/Mi-17 Helicopters to be used for Troop Transportation and SAR missions.

HAL plans to develop Army and Air Force Prototypes by 2023 for initial ground benchmark tests before they can be cleared for its first flight in 2026 and enter production in 2029. Navy is looking to acquire 123 Naval Multi-Role Helicopters (NMRH) that will replace Seaking helicopters procured in the ’80s are nearing its service life but the Naval IMRH might take longer than its Army and Air Force variants and might be available sometime in 2030.

According to Naval Chief, the Navy has committed to procuring 19 Naval Special Operation and 41 ASW & ASuW Multi-Mission Maritime Helicopters when it is ready for induction.

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