Army Aviation planning to phase out Cheetah, Chetak helicopters from 2027
New Delhi: The Army is looking at phasing out its ageing fleet of Cheetah and Chetak choppers starting 2027, and considering induction of the light utility helicopters as the replacement besides exploring the option of leasing, sources said.
The Army Aviation Corps is currently operating around 190 Chetak, Cheetah and Cheetal helicopters, they said.
While the Army will be getting around 100 light utility helicopters (LUH), it is also looking at the option of taking choppers on lease to meet its requirement.
“We require around 250 light helicopters for the reconnaissance and surveillance activities. Out of these about 100 plus will be Light Utility Helicopters, and given the capacities that HAL has today, we have to look at alternative means also to replace the entire fleet of Cheetah and Chetaks,” a source said.
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) produces the LUH.
“We are looking at a couple of other options, like leasing options, where we lease a few helicopters for a few years, and subsequently if HAL is able to manufacture the balance numbers, maybe we can go to HAL too. But the focus is on indigenisation and picking up helicopters from within the country,” the source said.
The timeframe for replacement of the Cheetahs and Chetaks is expected to be around 10-12 years.
The sources also said that design issues in advanced light helicopters (ALH) have been resolved.
They added that the Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) are being fitted with auto-pilots, and will be ready for delivery by the end of 2024.
The trials on LUH fitted with auto pilot are undergoing, they said.
It is learnt that there were some issues with the fitment of the autopilot in the LUH earlier.
The Army Aviation Corps, which currently has three brigades – two at the northern border, and one on the western border, is also planning to raise one more brigade.
The sources said the Army Aviation is also looking forward to induction of Apache Attack Helicopters next year onwards.
We are aiming at achieving an optimum balance of airlift and airstrike capability, and hence it is also processing the option of acquiring additional light combat helicopters, they said.
They also said integration of the HELINA missiles with the Advanced Light Helicopter (Weapon System Integrated) is under progress.
The Army Aviation Corps has recently celebrated its 38th Raising Day.
The modernisation of Army Aviation began over two decades ago with the induction of multi-engine Dhruv helicopters.
While ALH gained a reputation as a reliable tactical lift platform, the induction of armed choppers since 2013 added strength to the Army Aviation’s fire power.
Today, it has a modern Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Mk-III, ALH Weapon System Integrated (WSI) variant and Light Combat Helicopter (LCH).
The induction of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) has enhanced our surveillance as well as strike capability and transformed Army Aviation into a potent force multiplier capable of operating in combined combat teams concept, the sources said.