The first IMRH prototype itself is expected to fly in 2025-26 with a full 5 yr certification period to follow.
Sometimes the Indian aerospace ecosystem amazes me . Here we had Tejas & not having built a single jet fighter ( discounting the Marut experience which by the 1980's had become redundant) or having the necessary industrial ecosystem or expertise we went in for indigenous design, R&D of the engine , avionics like radar, etc, FCL, FBW, composite skin, etc.
Today, here we are with the IMRH a full 2 decades + of having successfully developed a full family of light hptrs viz ALH with it's various iterations & derivatives & what are we attempting in the next project? Zero . We've swung to the opposite end of the pendulum.
The IMRH isn't a revolutionary design, there's no FBW, we aren't even attempting to build an indigenous engine. Forget revolutionary, we aren't even going evolutionary.
Being ex HAL, I'd be very interested in your take on this . @Milspec
The helicopter division of HAL has had good leadership. ADA, unfortunately, hasn't. To be fair to ADA, LCA was a very ambitious endeavor, while ALH was a relatively simpler product. But the biggest difference that remains is that HAL created smart goals and got ALH right. Because of a successful moderate capability helicopter, it became the basis for continuous product development and off shoot projects based on best practices.
Very similar examples exist in the auto industry.
ALH coincided with proper lean systems being integrated into HAL manufacturing and proper project management tools being introduced into what till then was traditional babudom system of PSU's.
With ALH, the best thing India/HAL/MoD did was a secure clear path to Snecma Shakti powerplant. If you can have a great powerplant you can have multiple systems around it. HAL planned ahead on the forward integration for product development.
One of the things you rightly point out in your post is the iterations, look at the mk variants and the gradual upgrades in the system improving serviceability as well as reliability.
The last thing I would mention is Prop planes and Helicopters make great cases for development and variations that can fit different niches. like say a Truck / SUV platform. With tweaking the same F-Alpha Frame Nissan put out the Xterra, Pathfinder,Patrol, Titan, Frontier and the Armada with just two engines, 4 liter v6 and 5.7l v8.
Combat jets are more akin to building a Formula One car, you can take technolgies from it and integrate that into other products, but the platform can just do one thing, you cant develop it variants that would fit other needs. ADA's LCA is bit like that, it can only serve as a foundational project for something completely new, but it will take too much time and effort to spawn a variant that would do something different. Even a two-seat version or a naval variant is vastly different. That is just the nature of the beast.
Now comes the ability of HAL/IAF/MOD combination how it can squeeze the most out of the LCA,
>There is no harm in running a small batch of LCA mk1 Naval variant, operate it primarily as a maritime fighter with capability to land on carriers.
> Program cost of LCA improves if it can produce more aircrafts, Utilize the platform as the LIFT trainer (may be use lower power engine)
> Utilize MK2 project to test subsystems, composites and electronics for AMCA with concurrent engineering, so the flight systems are validated from the get go.
>Research a LCA Mk2 XL (Similar to f16XL) high endurance system as a low cost replacement option for Jaguars.
> Use LCA mk1 systems to test out fully autonomous networked combat jets.