With the armed forces marred by long delays in replacing the vintage Cheetah/ Chetak choppers, Defence Ministry has approved a proposal to procure around 22 Cheetal helicopters for Army.
The Army is planning to deploy these choppers for supporting its high altitude operations in Ladakh and Siachen.
The Cheetals are an upgraded version of the vintage Cheetahs with more powerful engines manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).
These choppers are being procured as there is a delay in the acquisition of new Light Utility Helicopters (LUHs) for replacing the Cheetah/Chetak fleet of IAF and Army due to cancellation of procurement procedures in the recent past.
Army has some of its squadrons of Cheetah/Chetak choppers deployed in Siachen base camp and around Leh in Jammu and Kashmir to support its troops deployed at and along the world’s highest battlefield there.
The Defence Ministry is procuring 197 LUHs of which 133 would go to Army while the remaining would go to IAF.
European Eurocopter and Russian Kamov 226 Sergei are in the race for supplying these new choppers but the Defence Ministry is yet to take a final decision on starting commercial negotiations with the two vendors.
The Navy has also issued a tender for procuring 56 choppers that will replace its fleet of the vintage Cheetah/ Chetak helicopters.