IAF for 12 more Cheetals
With the reconnaissance and surveillance helicopter (RSH) competition delayed interminably, the IAF has decided to contract for 12 Cheetal helicopters as a stop-gap for its logistics supply forces in northern Ladakh. The Cheetal created a world record for high altitude landings at Saser Kangri in November 2004 after which it was first made available to the Indian military.
A re-engined version of the Aerospatiale Alouette-II/Cheetah, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will build the dozen helicopters on a fast-track basis—the second such supply order from the IAF for the souped up light helicopter. The Cheetal had initially been met with some skepticism by the Indian military—owing mainly to the demand for a new transmission system failing to find its way into the final product. However, following certain field trials, the Army and IAF both appear convinced that the Cheetal is a viable stopgap ahead of the new RSH units, a decision on which, could be taken this financial year. HAL is also developing a light utility helicopter to address a requirement of 184 helicopters for all three services.