Indian Armed Forces Raise Alarm Over Ageing Fleets Of Vintage Light Utility Helicopters Cheetah, Chetak

Indian Armed Forces Raise Alarm Over Ageing Fleets Of Vintage Light Utility Helicopters Cheetah, ChetakA naval HAL Chetak flying the Tricolour. (Pic by Nani1992/Wikipedia)

The armed forces have raised alarm over the ageing fleet of the virtually obsolete Cheetah and Chetak helicopters as the total technical life of these machines is set to begin to end by 2023 onwards, reports The Times of India.

Both Cheetah and Chetak are light utility single-engine vintage helicopters, and a bulk of them are as much as 40 years old. Thus, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been apprised that a critical operational challenges are emerging due to the ageing fleets of these choppers which have to be addressed.

The tri-services presently operate a total of 187 Cheetah and 205 Chetak helicopters, which are often used to even service high-altitude areas like Siachen Glacier region. However, these have lately witnessed a patchy record with a high crash rate and huge serviceability issues.

The development also gains significance as the armed forces have been demanding new light utility helicopters for well over 15 years now. In total, the tri-services need 483 new light utility helicopters.

In this light, the tri-services are said to have pushed on the government to fast-track two much-delayed "Make in India" projects aimed at manufacturing light utility helicopters, while also ensuring that the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) delivers its under-development helicopters in required numbers and timelines.