HAL launches programme to develop engines for small helicopters

State-owned aerospace and defence company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has launched a project to design and develop an indigenous turboshaft jet engine for use in helicopters in the 3.5 ton and 5-8 ton classes.

15th Dec 2015


HAL launches programme to develop engines for small helicopters

 

State-owned aerospace and defence company Limited (HAL) has launched a project to design and develop an indigenous turboshaft jet engine for use in helicopters in the 3.5 ton and 5-8 ton classes.

The Bengaluru-based company made this announcement at the inaugural run of the indigenously developed turbofan jet engine that will find use in trainer and business aircraft.

Defence Minister who was present at the event said that the development of an indigenous engine was of significance as India would require anywhere between 4,000 to 6,000 helicopter engines in the next 15 to 20 years. "If we can make it up in the timeframe allotted, it is going to be a big achievement," he said.

In a twin engine configuration, the Hindustan Turbo Shaft Engine (HTSE-1200) would be able to power choppers in the same class as the (LCH) and (ALH), two of the workhorses for the Indian armed forces.

The ALHs and LCHs are powered by the Shakti engine which has been co-developed by and France's Safran. The two companies in June forged a joint venture to set up a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility at the cost of Rs 200 crore.

Parrikar dispelled speculation surrounding where the helicopter unit would be setup after news reports suggested the Goa government was pitching for the plant. "The helicopter unit is coming within 60 kilometers of Bengaluru. We are awaiting the Prime Minister to lay the foundation stone," he said.

HAL, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this month, is the leading manufacturer of aircraft and aircraft components for the Indian defence forces. However, with the government looking at participation of the private sector in defence manufacturing, the company could lose its edge.

Parrikar, however, said that HAL shouldn't look at the private sector as competition instead as a partner in this journey.

Both the turbofan and turboshaft engines being tested and developed by HAL fall in the secondary jet engine class, as the country still lacks the technology and technical expertise to make its own higher class jet engines. India is still reliant on foreign manufacturers such as Rolls Royce and countries such as Russia for higher class engines.

"Under the DTTI (Defence Trade and Technology Initiative) programme, we've already discussed and are coming to the final stages of approving the development of a jet engine of a higher class. As these few things get going, India over the next 5-10 years can be the global hub of aeronautical development," added Parrikar.

There has been a lot of focus on Make in India in the defence sector. Apart from the widely talked about Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), HAL has also completed development and testing of the HTT-40 jet trainer and has received orders from the Indian Air Force.

"IAF has already given them an initial order of 72 aircraft and maybe if they do it properly, they can also export it," added Parrikar.

 

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