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Navy to replace Chetak Helicopters with new LUHs

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Chetak helicopters in IAF's arsenal. Photo: IAF

NEW DELHI (PTI): The Navy has initiated the process for procurement of new Light Utility Helicopters (LUHs) to replace its ageing fleet of Chetak choppers.

"We are on the lookout for a twin-engined helicopter of modern airframe design and fully integrated advanced avionics to replace our existing fleet of Chetak helicopters, which were inducted about 30-35 years ago," Navy officials said here.

The Navy recently issued a global Request For Information (RFI) for an unspecified number of new LUHs, asking the vendors to reply within next three weeks with details of their products.

The next step, the global Request for Proposal (RFP), is expected to be issued by the middle of this year to chopper majors like the European consortium Eurocopter, Italian Agusta Westland and the Russian Kamov.

These companies are already taking part in the field trials of the USD 600 million tender to supply 197 LUHs for replacing the French-origin Cheetah/ Chetak fleet of the Army and the Air Force.

The IAF and the Army will get 384 LUHs over the next decade, of which 197 would be procured from foreign vendors and the remaining would be indigenously produced by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

As per the RFI, the Navy wants the helicopters to have controls for two pilots but it should be capable of being operated by single pilot also.

"The new choppers would be used to carry out search and rescue, casualty evacuation, observation and surveillance and limited electronic intelligence gathering," officials said.

The choppers should have the capability to carry out anti-submarine warfare attack with torpedoes and depth charges besides anti-terrorism and anti-piracy roles.

The Navy wants twin-engine choppers to provide more survivability to its crew while flying over maritime zone.

The helicopters will be used for both shore-based and offshore operations and the Navy has specified they should be capable of operating from small decks and larger decks (up to aircraft carrier) in adverse weather by day and night.

It also wants the choppers to be operated from snow-covered surface, sleet, sand, water and slush.

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