India’s largest helicopter manufacturing facility to be inaugurated in Tumakuru, Karnataka

On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Helicopter Factory in Tumakuru, Karnataka. It is a dedicated new greenfield helicopter factory that will increase the capacity and ecosystem for helicopter production. In yet another step toward ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in defence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will dedicate to the nation a HAL helicopter factory in Tumakuru, Karnataka, on February 6, according to the Defence Ministry.

HAL Chopper Manufacturing Unit

The Greenfield helicopter plant, which spans 615 acres of land, was designed with the intention of serving as the nation’s one-stop shop for all helicopter requirements. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on Saturday that the largest helicopter manufacturing facility in India would initially construct Light Utility Helicopters (LUHs). The LUH is a three-ton, single-engine, multipurpose utility helicopter that was designed domestically.

This facility will initially produce about 30 helicopters annually, with the capacity increasing gradually to 60 and finally 90. According to the MoD, the first LUH has been through flight testing and is ready for public display. In actuality, HAL’s plans for the Tumakuru factory go much beyond the LUH and include a complete ecosystem of locally produced light helicopters.

Also read: All About Indigenously Built IAF ALH MK-IV Helicopter

Role of the Manufacturing Unit

The plant will be expanded to build further helicopters, such as Indian Multirole Helicopters and Light Combat Helicopters (LCHs) (IMRHs). In the future, it will also be utilized for LCH, LUH, Civil Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), and IMRH (Indian Multi-Role Helicopter) maintenance, repair, and overhaul. This plant will also serve potential exports of [a civil version of the LUH], according to the MoD.

Over the next two decades, HAL intends to produce over 1,000 helicopters weighing between 3 and 15 tonnes, bringing in over Rs 4,000 crores in revenue. According to the MoD, the Tumakuru plant would increase local development through its CSR initiatives in addition to creating jobs.

The Tumakuru plant is fully functional with amenities such as a heli-runway, flight hangar, final assembly hangar, structural assembly hangar, Air Traffic Control, and many supporting service facilities. According to the MoD, this will support the Prime Minister’s goal of “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” by allowing India to design, develop, and manufacture all of its helicopters needs domestically (self-reliant India).

Aatmanirbhar Bharat

The Indian Air Force (IAF) and the army will need 400 light utility helicopters to replace their outdated Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, even though just a dozen LUHs are currently approved for procurement. In order to do this, Moscow and New Delhi inked an “inter-government agreement” (IGA) in 2015 to construct 200 Kamov-226T together. However, there are significant differences between India and Russia regarding work-sharing concerns for the Kamov-226T. The 400 LUHs the military needs may end up being built by HAL if those issues are not resolved. Additionally, the LUH might obtain substantial export orders.

On October 3, 2022, the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), known as Prachand, became the latest success story in the helicopter industry. The purchase of 15 LCHs for Rs 3,887 crore, or around Rs 260 crore each, has been authorized by the Union Cabinet. In addition to this first order, the MoD has estimated that 162 LCHs will be needed: 65 for the IAF and 97 for the army. This will generate around Rs 42,120 crore in income for HAL.

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Such purchases are expected to improve the income stream’s proportionate share of helicopters for HAL. The manufacturing of 44 helicopters and/or planes, 84 new engines, as well as the overhauling of 203 aircraft/helicopters and 478 engines, all contributed to HAL’s record earnings, which crossed Rs 24,000 crore last year.

Since HAL started constructing the Sukhoi-30MKI in Nashik in the early 2000s, fighter aircraft have provided the majority of its revenue. After the Sukhoi-30s were delivered, the MoD approved an order for 83 Tejas Mark-1A fighters at Rs 46,898 crore in March 2020.

The Shakti Success Story

The remarkable Indo-French Shakti engine, which is powerful enough to propel a helicopter to the dizzying heights of the Saltoro Ridge above the Siachen Glacier, where the Indian Army is deployed in posts like Sonam and Bana Top at altitudes above 20,000 feet, unites all of HAL’s helicopter successes, including the Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), the Rudra Attack Helicopter, and the

At those oxygen-deficient heights, infantrymen cannot transport heavy weapons over long distances. However, a high-altitude attack helicopter that is equipped with a 20-millimeter turret gun, 70-millimeter rockets, air-to-air missiles, and anti-tank guided missiles can support them with fire. The arrival of a helicopter may mean the difference between life and death for the soldiers stationed at these positions, between cold and warmth, between pulmonary failure, and a need for a casualty evacuation.

Also read: All About Local To Global HAL’s Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH)

Together, HAL and Safran Helicopter Engines developed the Shakti engine, which powers HAL’s Dhruv, Rudra, and Prachanda light helicopters, allowing them to fly at those heights. The new LUH is powered by the Ardiden 1U Shakti version. More than 500 Shakti engines, according to HAL, have already been made. A new joint venture that would build helicopter engines for India’s future requirements was established by HAL and Safran on July 8, 2022.

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