Indian Navy gets unexpected surprise in form of Chetak

Indian Navy gets unexpected surprise in form of Chetak

The 1950s vintage, French-designed helicopter, which is known for its stellar high-altitude performance. (Photo/ Akhil Kadidal)

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has delivered a Chetak Helicopter to the Indian Navy ahead of schedule.

The 1950s vintage, French-designed helicopter, which is known for its stellar high-altitude performance and is regularly used by the army in the Himalayas, was outfitted with latest communication and navigation systems developed by HAL.

Although over 1,500 Chetaks are operational in the world, most operators are in the process of cutting down on their fleets. In May 2017, HAL entered into a joint venture with Russian Helicopters to build 220 Kamov Ka-226T helicopters in India to supplant the Indian military’s fleets of Chetaks and older Cheetahs.

However, in August 2017, HAL entered into an agreement to supply eight Chetak helicopters to the navy, with the first two machines scheduled to be delivered in August 2019, followed by the balance in August 2020.

“The company is committed to provide continuous support to the Chetak fleet,” said R Madhavan, chairman and managing director of the company.

GVS Bhaskar, CEO of the Helicopter Complex clarified that “HAL has successfully restarted the Chetak helicopter production line after incorporating latest technologies.  We are committed to deliver the remaining seven helicopters as per the delivery schedule.”

HAL has been building the Chetak (originally, the Aerospatiale Alouette III) on license from Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) for the last five decades. The Indian Navy took receipt of its first helicopter in February 1966. The navy uses these machines for communication duties (passenger transport), as cargo transporters, for casualty evacuation, for search-rescue, for surveillance, for emergency medical services, for electronic intelligence gathering and anti-hijacking patrols.

Out of the 350 Chetaks built by HAL so far, 80 have been for the navy. Currently, 51 helicopters are operational with navy.