Force Magazine

 Chopper Trouble
 Delay in replacing Cheetah/Chetak fleet will endanger army troops, especially those serving
 at high altitudes

Eurocopter Fennec

The jinx of artillery modernisation and transformation now seems to have caught up with the Army Aviation Corps (AAC) with its project for acquiring 197 light observation helicopters hitting a roadblock. However, this time the army itself is responsible for creating this situation.

As per reports, the ultimate decision on this project was left to the army by the ministry of defence (MoD) when the name of the officer in charge trials allegedly figured in the diary of an Italian middleman who is currently under investigation in the Italian government’s probe of the VVIP AgustaWestland helicopter deal with India. The army has decided to play safe and wait for the outcome of the CBI inquiry into the VVIP chopper deal in order to avoid any negative fallout subsequently.

Keeping in mind the fact that similar enquiries by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have a history of dragging on endlessly, this crucial project is not likely to fructify in the near future, leaving the army bereft of a suitable helicopter to replace the ageing Cheetah/Chetak fleet. This will, no doubt, affect the overall operational capability of the army, especially in high altitude areas where the Cheetah helicopter is the lifeline of troops deployed there. This is despite the fact that an oversight committee appointed by the MoD had cleared the conduct of trials of any irregularity, and no evidence of any wrong-doing has been found against the trials officer so far in all the probes conducted. It is also pertinent to note that the trials for replacement helicopters were conducted by a joint team of specialists and professionals from both army and Indian Air Force (IAF) and no single entity could have influenced the outcome.
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