Cheetah helicopter crash: Questions need to be raised on the ageing fleet
New Delhi, Sep 28: The Cheetah helicopter crash in Bhutan, which claimed the lives of two pilots including one from the Indian Army has raised questions about an ageing fleet.
Lt Col Rajneesh Parmar of the Army's Aviation Corps and Capt Kalzang of the Royal Bhutanese army were killed in the crash. Lt Col Parmar was part of the Indian Army Training team that undertakes training for Bhutanese pilots.
The Cheetah is based on the 1950 design of the Alouette Aérospatiale 315B Lama France. This crash has raised questions once again about the ageing fleet of choppers. The Cheetah falls under the Light Utility Helicopter. The existing plan states that Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is to produce a total of 187 choppers.
The plan further states that the Army would procure 126 helicopters, while in the case of the Indian Airforce it would be 61.
In order to replace the Cheetah fleet, the armed forces would need 495 choppers. The Army would need 259 choppers and the IAF 125.
A Cheetah helicopter of the Indian Army crashed in eastern Bhutan Friday afternoon, killing both the pilots, official sources said.
The single-engine helicopter was on its way from Khirmu in Arunachal Pradesh to Yonphula in Bhutan and went out of radio and visual contact soon after 1 pm.
Both the pilots - one Indian and the other from Royal Bhutanese Army - were killed, they said. Ground search and rescue operation was launched immediately and the wreckage of the helicopter has been located, the sources said, adding the crash took place around 1 pm near Yonphula. A high-level inquiry has been ordered, the sources quoted by PTI said.