The Indian Army Aviation Corps (AAC) is considering leasing helicopters for short-term use to replace its ageing fleet of Cheetah and Chetak choppers. The Army is looking at phasing out its fleet starting in 2027.

The AAC is also progressing the induction of Light Utility Helicopters (LUHs) as a replacement. The LUHs are being fitted with auto-pilots and will be ready for delivery by the end of 2024.

Other Alternate Options Include:

Leasing helicopters for short-term use
Procuring India-made helicopters
Issuing a request for proposal (RFP) for procurement of utility choppers on lease

Officials aware of the matter said the current fleet is expected to retire in 10-12 years and replacements will be needed progressively. The Army is looking to acquire 100 of the indigenous Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) developed by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) reported ET.

The Army is looking at leasing options as there is likely to be a shortage of light helicopters in the coming years. This can be attributed to the failure of a joint venture between India and Russia to manufacture Ka226 helicopters in India. While a pact to produce 200 of the choppers with technology transfer was announced in 2015, the project never took off. Though it hasn’t been officially shelved, there is no likelihood of it progressing beyond a memorandum of understanding.

The existing fleet is airworthy and still has a technical life of a few years left. Around 15 Cheetahs and Chetaks have crashed during the last 10 years, killing several pilots.