HAL and Safran create JV to develop helicopter engines - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Friday 8 July 2022

HAL and Safran create JV to develop helicopter engines

HAL and Safran's existing relationship has yielded the excellent Shakti engine that powers three highly successful helicopters built by HAL

By Ajai Shukla

Business Standard, 9th July 22


Amongst the most ground-breaking technological successes notched up by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) are its single-engine and twin-engine helicopters – in the former segment, the eponymous Light Utility Helicopter (LUH); and in the latter segment the Dhruv advanced light helicopter (ALH), the Rudra attack helicopter and the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH).


The common feature in all these choppers is the remarkable Shakti engine, which is powerful enough to propel them to the dizzying heights of Kargil, or the Saltoro Ridge, where the Indian Army is deployed in posts like Sonam and Bana Top, at altitudes above 20,000 feet.


For the soldiers at these posts, a helicopter’s arrival could spell the difference between freezing or warmth, casualty evacuation or pulmonary failure – effectively between life or death.


On Friday, their survival prospects received a boost, when HAL signed an agreement with French engine-maker, Safran Helicopter Engines, to create a new joint venture (JV) that will develop helicopter engines for India’s future needs. 


After a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by HAL Chairman and Managing Director R Madhavan and Franck Saudo, CEO Safran Helicopter Engines, a statement said: “Both partners will extend their long-lasting partnership by establishing a new aero-engine company in India. It will be dedicated to the development, production, sales and support of helicopter engines and one of its main objectives will be to meet the requirements of HAL and Ministry of Defence’s future helicopters, including the 13-ton IMRH (Indian Multi-Role Helicopter).”


“This MoU demonstrates once again the commitment of both Safran Helicopter Engines and HAL to the Indian Government’s vision of “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” or achieving self-reliance – particularly in defence technologies,” said HAL.


“Safran Helicopter Engines has been our valued partner for several decades. We now look forward to utilize this opportunity to leverage HAL’s experience in manufacturing of more than 15 types of aircraft and helicopter engines to jointly co-develop and manufacture engine with immediate focus on IMRH and its naval variant the Deck Based Multi Role Helicopter (DBMRH),” said Madhavan.


“We are proud to further expand our structuring partnership with HAL, which began more than 50 years ago, and which was recently illustrated with the development and production of the Shakti engine and the inauguration of our joint venture Helicopter Engines MRO Pvt Limited (HE-MRO). With a fleet of over 1,000 engines, India’s armed forces are one of the largest operators of Safran-designed helicopter engines”, said Saudo.


“HAL and Safran Helicopter Engines already have multiple partnerships, including the Shakti engine, which powers HAL-produced helicopters, including the Dhruv, Rudra and the LCH. The Ardiden 1U variant (of the Shakti engine) also powers the new LUH. More than 500 Shakti engines have already been produced,” said HAL.


Through HE-MRO joint venture in Goa, HAL and Safran Helicopter Engines will also provide MRO services for TM333 and Shakti engines already in service with India’s military. It will be operational by the end of 2023, said a HAL-Safran joint statement.

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