Following the deaths of Indian Army pilot Lt Col VVB Reddy and co-pilot Maj Jayanth A in a Cheetah chopper crash on March 16 near Mandala in Arunachal’s West Kameng district, several retired army officers, primarily from the Army Aviation Corps (AAC), have demanded that the defense ministry disclose the delivery schedule for light utility helicopters (LUH) to replace the Cheetah, Cheetal, and Chetak fleets, which are getting old.
These helicopters were first used by the army nearly 60 years ago. Their avionics are out of date, and many of their airframes are weak. The Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL)-developed LUHs were intended to gradually replace these helicopters.
These helicopters are essential for surveillance, reconnaissance, and the supply of forward posts. Additionally, they are crucial in the medical evacuation process from forward bases.
Weather is a major concern in the northeastern states where these helicopters operate, according to a retired AAC officer. Because of this, the AAC requires more robust equipment with superior avionics,” he stated.
Indian Army Chief Gen. Manoj Pande announced in February that the force's inventory of nearly 250 Cheetahs, Cheetals, and Chetaks would be replaced by cutting-edge helicopters. The single-motor LUHs in the 3-ton class are the best option.
It is anticipated that the first two LUHs will soon be inducted.
Sources claim that the defense ministry has already sent the HAL a letter of intent to purchase 12 LUHs.
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