Indian Army to phase out Cheetah and Chetak helicopters from 2027 onwards

It has been reported that the Indian Army will start phasing out the first lot of the vintage Cheetah and Chetak helicopters from 2027 onwards on completion of their Total Technical Life (TTL).

Further, it is likely to induct undisclosed numbers of the indigenous Hindustan Aeronautics Limited designed and developed Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) in order to replace them.

To be noted that the Indian Armed Forces have been attempting to replace the Cheetah and Chetak helicopters for well over a decade.

Currently, the Indian Army has around 190 Cheetah, Chetak and Cheetal helicopters.

Of the 190 Cheetah and Chetaks in service, around 134 helicopters or over 70% of them are over 30 years old, as reported by The Hinduearlier.

Also, out of the 190, around 25 of them are at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for maintenance, which is a deficiency of around 37% in this segment.

Besides the Army, the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force (IAF) also operate these helicopters.

Rather, the IAF has around 120 Cheetah and Chetak helicopters and around 18 of the more recent Cheetals.

Keeping in mind their obsolescence and shortage, the  the Defence Acquisition Council in November 2021 approved the procurement of 12 Limited Series Production (LSP) variants of the LUH at a cost of around Rs 1,500 crore.

Out of these 12, six is for the Army and six is for the IAF.

However, these have witnessed a delay owing to issues with the auto-pilot system. which have been addressed and the trials by the HAL have commenced.

The six LSP LUH are expected to be delivered to the Army between December 2024 and June 2025.

Further, it is speculated that a much larger contract for LUH is expected to be concluded by January 2024 and deliveries expected to begin by 2026 onwards.

In the interim, the Army is also looking to lease 20 utility helicopters to address the shortage.