Spread across 615 acres of land, the Greenfield Helicopter Factory will initially produce Light Utility Helicopters. The factory is augmented to produce other helicopters such as Light Combat Helicopter and Indian Multirole Helicopters.
The Indian Government has been constantly taking steps to strengthen the Indian defence industry's indigenous capabilities through opening of new manufacturing and production units, collaborations as well as policy initiatives. In another such move, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Helicopter Factory at Tumakuru in Karnataka on February 6, 2023. The PM took a walkthrough of the Helicopter Facility & Structure Hangar and unveiled the Light Utility Helicopter (LUH). The factory that will initially produce LUHs, is said to be India's largest helicopter manufacturing facility. The LUH is an indigenously designed and developed three-tonne class, single engine multipurpose utility helicopter with features including high maneuverability. Initially, this factory will produce around 30 helicopters per year and can further be enhanced to 60 and then 90 per year in a phased manner.
Addressing the gathering, the PM lauded the talent and innovation of Karnataka's youth and said the manufacturing sector's strength is manifested in products from drones to Tejas fighter planes. "Double-engine government has made Karnataka the first choice of investors," the Prime Minister asserted and illustrated the point by the HAL project dedicated today, for which he had laid the foundation stone in 2016 with a pledge for reducing foreign dependence for defence needs.
"From advanced assault rifles to tanks, aircraft carriers, helicopters, fighter jets, transport aircraft, India is manufacturing it all", the Prime Minister remarked. "The investment made in the aerospace sector in the last 8-9 years is five times the investment made before 2014 plus 15 years prior. Made in India arms are not just supplied to the armed forces but the defence exports have also grown manifold when compared to the years before 2014. Hundreds of helicopters are going to be manufactured in this facility itself in the near future which will give rise to businesses worth four lakh crore. When such manufacturing units are set up, it does not just strengthen the Armed Forces but also creates employment and self-employment opportunities," he added. He also lauded HAL stating that today HAL is making modern Tejas for the Armed forces and is a centre of global attraction and bolstering India's 'Atmanirbharta' in the defence sector.
The Greenfield Helicopter Factory, spread across 615 acres of land, is planned with a vision to become a one-stop solution for all helicopter requirements of the country. After initially producing LUHs, the factory is augmented to produce other helicopters such as Light Combat Helicopters (LCHs) and Indian Multirole Helicopters (IMRHs). It will also be used for Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul of LCH, LUH, Civil Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and IMRH in the future. Potential exports of civil LUH will also be catered to from this factory, stated the official press release by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
The HAL plans to produce more than 1,000 helicopters in the range of 3-15 tonnes, with a total business of over Rs four lakh crores over a period of 20 years. With the establishment of facilities like Heli-Runway, Flight Hangar, Final Assembly Hangar, Structure Assembly Hangar, Air Traffic Control and various supporting service facilities, the factory is fully operational. This factory is being equipped with state-of-the-art Industry 4.0 standard tools and techniques for its operations. This factory is expected to enable India to meet its entire requirement of helicopters without import and further add to 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' in helicopter design, development, and manufacture.
The proximity of the factory, with the existing HAL facilities in Bengaluru, aims to boost the aerospace manufacturing ecosystem in the region and support skill & infrastructure development such as schools, colleges and residential areas. Medical and health care would also reach the community residing in the various nearby Panchayats.
In his address, Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh stated that India has been a major centre for production and export of silk, cotton & steel and it has now embarked on a journey to become a global hub in manufacturing, especially in the field of defence. He described the HAL Helicopter Factory as a testament to the country's growing indigenous capabilities and the Government's unwavering resolve to achieve 'Atmanirbharta' in defence manufacturing. "The facility is a reflection of the Swadeshi movement inspired by leaders like Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi. The Swadeshi movement, which started a century ago, was the first phase of our independence. That was National Movement 1.0. Our vision of 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' is the second phase. It is National Movement 2.0, through which we are moving fast towards freedom from foreign equipment," he said. Not just the soldiers, but scientists, engineers, machinists, technicians, MSMEs, individual innovators, startups, industrial workers and all other sections are contributing to national security and socio-economic empowerment of the country, he added.
An official statement by MoD also highlighted the several policy initiatives that the Government has taken in the past few years, bringing in reforms to encourage indigenous design, development and manufacture of defence equipment, thereby promoting self-reliance in defence manufacturing & technology in the country.