Troops stationed at the Siachen Glacier can look forward to better resource mobilisation as the Indian Air Force is procuring 12 new light helicopters for deployment there.
A request for proposal (RFP) has been sent by the IAF to defence aerospace PSU HAL for buying 12 Cheetal helicopters which will be used for carrying out operations in high altitude areas in the northern borders, IAF officials told PTI in New Delhi.
The Cheetal helicopters are an upgraded version of the Cheetahs with more powerful engines manufactured by HAL.
The IAF has some of its squadrons of the Cheetah/Chetak choppers deployed in Leh and Thoise in Jammu and Kashmir for flying to provide air support to army troops deployed at and along the world's highest battlefield there, the officials said.
The Cheetals are being procured as there is a delay in the acquisition of new Light Utility Helicopters (LUHs) for replacing the Cheetah/Chetak fleet of the IAF and the Army due to cancellation of procurement procedures in the recent past, they said.
The Defence Ministry is procuring 197 LUHs of which 133 would go to the army while the remaining would be with the IAF.
The navy has also issued a tender for procuring 56 choppers that will replace its fleet of the vintage Cheetah/Chetak helicopters.
Indian armed forces, which are on a massive modernisation drive, have decided to procure and induct over 1,000 choppers for different requirements over the next five to 10 years.