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Def Min approves Army proposal for 22 Cheetal helicopters

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The Cheetals are an upgraded version of the vintage Cheetah chopper (in picture) with more powerful engines manufactured by HAL. An Army photo

NEW DELHI (PTI): The Defence Ministry has approved a proposal to procure around 22 Cheetal helicopters for Indian Army, which is likely to deploy these choppers for supporting its high altitude operations in Ladakh and Siachen.

A meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the apex Ministry body headed by Defence Minister A K Antony to decide on procurements, cleared the proposal to procure around 22 Cheetal choppers for Army on Tuesday, Defence Ministry officials said.

The Cheetals are an upgraded version of the vintage Cheetahs with more powerful engines manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).

These choppers are being procured as there is a delay in the acquisition of new Light Utility Helicopters (LUHs) for replacing the Cheetah/Chetak fleet of IAF and Army due to cancellation of procurement procedures in the recent past, they said.

The Army has some of its squadrons of Cheetah/Chetak choppers deployed in Siachen base camp and around Leh in Jammu and Kashmir to support its troops deployed at and along the world's highest battlefield there, the officials said.

The Defence Ministry is procuring 197 LUHs of which 133 would go to Army while the remaining would go to IAF.

European Eurocopter and Russian Kamov 226 Sergei are in the race for supplying these new choppers but the Defence Ministry is yet to take a final decision on starting commercial negotiations with the two vendors.

The Navy has also issued a tender for procuring 56 choppers that will replace its fleet of the vintage Cheetah/ Chetak helicopters.

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