The Army has issued a warning on the age of helicopters. Chetak and Cheeta helicopters have expired and will expire in 2023, the Army said. The Army also demanded that the construction of light utility helicopters be completed expeditiously through the ‘Make in India’ project. The Army has demanded the timely delivery of helicopters manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics.
For single-engine damage, Cheetah helicopters cannot be used for critical purposes. Most of these helicopters are more than forty years old, according to senior military officials. The military has been pushing for new helicopters for 15 years. Conflict with China is the reason for the rising demand.
There are currently 187 Chetak helicopters and 205 Cheetah helicopters for the Army, Air Force, and Navy. They are used even in high-altitude areas like Siachen. But their effectiveness is affecting the military. A total of 483 helicopters are required for the three divisions. But the need for the army has not yet been addressed.
An agreement was reached with Russia in 2015 for the construction of the helicopter. The contract was for the construction of 200 twin-engine (135 Army, 65 IAF) Kamov-226T helicopters at a cost of Rs 20,000 crore. But five years later, no progress has been made. Russia’s indigenous plan has problems. HAL and JV are required to participate in the project. HAL is developing its own light utility helicopters. The Army is building 172 (111, IAF 61) helicopters for initial use. But it was cleared in February.
Construction with foreign participation
The third project is to build 111 twin-engine helicopters at a cost of Rs 21,000 crore. The helicopter is being manufactured by a private company from India with foreign participation. Four Indian companies – Tata, Adani, Mahindra Defense, and Bharat Forge – have been shortlisted. The list also includes three foreign airlines, Airbus, Kamov, and Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky. But this plan has not gotten anywhere.