HAL might prefer Safran as its partner for helicopter engines as it had visited India last month to discuss the requirements, said Vijainder Thakur, a defense analyst and retired Indian Air Force squadron leader. He also said that Ukraine is pitching its variant of the Mi-17 helicopter engine.
Safran Helicopter Engines of France is likely to be a front-runner for the supply of engines and consultancy, in addition to General Electric of the U.S. and Rolls-Royce of the U.K.
After having designed the multirole helicopter, there is very less on HAL’s table, other than establishing manufacturing facilities. Even the avionics of the Indian Multirole Helicopter will be imported, Thakur was quoted as saying by DefenseNews Wednesday.
HAL, which is India's sole aircraft and helicopter producer, is developing a 12.5-ton class multi-role helicopter with a service ceiling of about 20,000 feet and a 3,500 kilogram payload.
The company intends to freeze the preliminary design of its IMRH so it can be built over the next 18 months.
About 200 helicopters are proposed to be built for use by Indian defense forces, including Indian Navy, Air Force as well as Army for tactical troops movement, heliborne and amphibious assault, anti-submarine warfare, and anti-surface operations.
If HAL gets support from leading foreign origin equipment manufacturers for engines, landing gear and so on, then it would take easily eight to 10 years for development, the MoD official.
Each IMRH could cost more than $30 million, a HAL official said.
"HAL doesn't have experience in building 10- to 12-ton-class medium helicopters capable of operating from ships to boot," he said.
A HAL official said the proposed IMRH will be powered by twin engines (to be identified), equipped with automatic flight control system, mission systems, and advanced cockpit display and avionic systems, to meet the utility and armed roles of Indian armed forces. A dedicated naval variant is also planned.