Sikorsky–Boeing SB-1 Defiant 

After coming under fire from a certain section of Indian media for sticking with a rather conventional helicopter design for its upcoming Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH) to replace, Indian Armed forces aging Soviet/Russian era Mi-8/17 Medium weight Helicopters instead of going for the next-generation in helicopter design and propulsion technology with emergence of next-generation unusual coaxial rotor system with twice the speed and previously-unseen versatility for a rotary-wing aircraft under development in Western Countries, HAL cautiously said that it Won’t bite what we can’t chew in a seminar organized at the recently concluded Aero India 2021.

Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH) will be an evolution in the Indian designed Multi-role Medium Class Helicopter for the HAL and its first venture in a class segment that it has never worked on before. Rotary Wing Research & Design Centre (RWR&DC) is the division in HAL that in the last 30 years have designed and developed indigenous products like Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH-DHRUV), Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), and Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) and currently has proposed to develop a 13 ton IMRH for the first time in the country.

Countries like the United States have started the development of next-generation Utility helicopters to replace its current generation of troop carriers that are designed to fly at twice the speed and range of today’s conventional helicopters and offer advanced agility and maneuverability along with increased survivability chances in high-threat air defense environments. HAL said that what will come after IMRH will incorporate such advanced path-breaking technologies in rotary-wing aircraft that some countries are developing, but for IMRH it plans to stick with technology at hand.

HAL officials have confirmed that it is in talks with two foreign OEMs for the supply of new engines that the company plans to locally license manufacture that will eventually power IMRH. HAL is looking at customization of the selected engine to suit Indian requirements, but initial Prototypes will be powered by engines that are directly brought off the shelf from the winning vendor for the program.

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