French defence giant Safran keen to supply engines to HAL for indigenous helicopter

Safran Helicopter Engines, manufacturer of gas-turbine engines for both civil and military helicopters, is developing a new family of high-power engines called Aneto. The French manufacturer is looking to supply its engines to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which had floated a global request for information (RFI) for the purchase of engines to power its home-made multi-role helicopter. Developed as part of the Safran’s research and development roadmap, the Aneto family of engines features several models covering 2,500-3,000 shp (shaft horsepower) power range, known as heavy helicopter engines. HAL’s RFI had stipulated that the State-owned firm is looking for 3,000shp-class twin engines and is aiming to fast-track development of its indigenous helicopter. HAL is engaged in the design and development of rotary wing aircraft with state-of-the-art technologies. The company intends to purchase the engine under a technology-transfer agreement. HAL aims to develop the 12tonne-class Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH), which will be designed to offer a service ceiling of around 20,000 feet, 3,500-kg payload with a seating capacity of 24. The aircraft will be able to assist in combat search-and-rescue, tactical troop transport, casualty evacuation, sling-load transportation, anti-surface operations and off-shore operations, among other activities. The proposed IMRH is to be powered by twin engines and equipped with an automatic flight-control system. Initially, the indigenous helicopters will be aimed at the Indian Air Force, while a naval variant also is on the cards.

The new Aneto engines by Safran boast of an exceptional power-to-volume ratio, offering 25 per cent more power compared with existing engines of the same volume. The company has said this will provide increased capabilities, especially for offshore, search-and-rescue or military transport missions. HAL’s RFI for the “supply of suitable turbo shaft engine for IMRH programme” has also evinced interest from other foreign OEMs. Sources indicated that the RFI relates to turbo shaft engines, assistance with development of a blade-folding system and external reviews of the 12-tonne rotorcraft’s landing gear and transmission. Design and development of the landing gear will also be undertaken by HAL’s Rotary Wing Research Design Centre. The duration of the design review period is six years.


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