Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) on Saturday handed over the first batch of four Cheetal helicopters to the Indian Air Force. NC Agarwal, Director (Design and Development) handed over the helicopters to Air Vice Marshal M. Bahadur. Assistant Chief of Air Staff.
"The IAF had placed an order for 10 Cheetals, of which the first batch of four has been delivered. The remaining six are expected to be handed over by September. We expect the IAF's order to be followed up by the Army and also the Government of India which is looking at procuring helicopters for various roles, especially for internal security,'' said R Srinivasan, MD (Helicopter Complex), HAL.AVM Bahadur who received the helicopters said; "The re-engined Cheetals will increase our operational capabilities, especially for high altitude operations. We have faith in HAL and hope it will continue to deliver and provide product support.''
The Cheetal is the re-engined Cheetah helicopter, with replacement of Artouste IIIB with the TM333-2M2 engine. The reduced weight of the TM 333-2M2 engine with better specific fuel consumption has resulted in increased range, endurance and payload. This makes the helicopter more versatile in various roles including search & rescue and missions in high altitude. The Cheetal has been designed to incorporate upgraded features such as light weight modern technology cockpit instruments like electrically driven Artificial Horizon, Directional Gyro, and light weight modern avionics - accurate navigation and homing through GPS, VHF HOMER, Flight Monitoring System (FMS), Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and Emergency Locator Transmitter.
LiveFist Note: When I visited the 666 Siachen Falcons Cheetah squadron in Leh in 2006, pilots there said that the re-engineed Cheetal was not sufficient to fulfil the IAF's needs -- they mentioned that the entire transmission system and gearbox needed to be changed as well, and if that didn't happen, the upgraded chopper wouldn't be a meaningfully more capable platform than the existing Cheetah.
Text & Photos Copyright HAL
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