Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has been awarded a contract by the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) for delivery of new Cheetal helicopters to the country's army.
The Rs4.18bn ($77.2m) contract covers production and supply of 20 helicopters, as well as associated equipment to the army.
Under the contract, which represents the first Cheetal helicopter delivery order for the service, HAL will also deliver training to pilots and technical crew.
Ordered for boosting the army's ability to conduct high-altitude operations in areas such as Siachen, the aircraft are being procured following persistent delays in acquiring new 197 light utility helicopters (LUH).
HAL has so far delivered nine out of the ten Cheetal helicopters ordered by the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2006.
Manufactured by HAL as a company funded programme, Cheetal is an upgraded version of the Cheetah helicopter featuring more powerful Turbomeca TM 333-2M2 turboshaft engines, which offer higher payload capacity of 90kg at an altitude of 6km.
Based on the Aerospatiale SA 315B Lama, the lightweight, high-performance helicopter has been designed primarily for conducting operations in hot and high conditions, and can also be used for personnel transport, casualty evacuation, surveillance, logistics air support, survey and rescue missions.
Equipped with a full authority digital engine control (FADEC) system for engine control, the helicopter is fitted with an electronic backup control box (EBCB) system that automatically takes over engine control in case of an FADEC failure.
Additional features include modern cockpit instruments, such as electric-powered artificial horizon, directional gyro, flight monitoring system, cockpit voice recorder, as well as a master flasher warning system.
Deliveries under the contract are scheduled to take place over the next four years.
Image: An Aerospatiale SA 315B Lama helicopter parked at Yellowstone National Park, US. Photo: courtesy of Mark Wagner.