The recent news about the Cheetah crash near Sukhna in West Bengal killing 3 Army Officers and and injuring a JCO brought into memory various times we have heard similar news. It also brings to mind the numerous times we have heard that these helicopters need to be replaced.
In 2007 Defence Minister A K Antony had said “government proposes to withdraw Chetak and Cheetah helicopters from the Army, because the existing fleet of helicopters is of 1960s and 1970s vintage and hence, inadequate for the present operational requirement of the Indian Army”. And yet we are still using these machines.
Take a look at a few Cheetah crashes in the past years:
1. Nov 30th. 2016
An army helicopter has reportedly crashed at Sukna Military Camp in West Bengal around 11.45 am Wednesday morning, killing three officers and leaving one junior commissioned officer critically injured.
2. March 11, 2016
An Indian Army helicopter crash landed in Hoshiarpur district’s Maili village after it developed a technical snag. Two of the four crew members on board were injured in the mishap.
3. Feb 3 rd. 2015
An Indian Army’s Cheetah helicopter crashed at Dimapur helipad in Nagaland during its routine sortie.
4. Oct 1, 2014
The Cheetah copter, which belonged to the Army’s aviation unit in Bareilly, crashed in Bhartaul village along the Nakatia river. Major Abhijit Thapa (29), Captain Avinash Kumar (26) and flight engineer Major Vikas Baryani (29) were declared brought dead at the military hospital in Bareilly.
5. March 5, 2013
A naval helicopter, with four personnel on board, crashed off the Vishakhapatnam harbour.Two crew members out of the four died.The Chetak helicopter crashed during a routine training sortie
6. May 23rd, 2012
The pilot of a Cheetah helicopter of the Army Aviation was killed while his co-pilot got injured when it crashed in Siachen glacier.
7. August 18, 2010
Cheetah, on a routine sortie between Dimapur and Limakong. The two pilots — Major Rakesh Sharma and Major Nikhil Prakash of the Army Aviation Corps — and passenger Colonel B P Pal of EME, died in the crash.
8. September 11 , 2010
IAF lost a Cheetah in Jharkhand
9. Nov 08th, 2010
One IAF Cheetah helicopter crash landed in Siachen Glacier region on November 8, 2010. The helicopter took off from the Base Camp for a routine air maintenance sortie in Siachen Glacier region. Luckily both pilots survived. Another Cheetah crash was reported in the glacier in April 2007.
10. Oct 29th, 2004
Cheetah helicopter took off from the Bareilly base on a routine “recee mission” but lost air contact and crashed killing Major General D.P. Singh, his aide Lt-Col B.K. Pande and the pilot Captain Arjun Sardana near the Sino-Indian border.
Wives of Army Officers had represented to the Government for replacement of Cheetah and Chetak helicopters to avoid casualties and a petition was submitted last year.
The Army has been trying to replace the Cheetah helicopters from the 70’s for a long time.
In Oct this year India and Russia signed a deal to jointly produce 200 Kamov Ka-226T helicopters, at the India Russia Summit in Goa. The helicopters are believed to boost the capabilities of the armed forces and replace the ageing cheetah chopper fleet.
We hope we can see the Ka-226T production soon. But soon will never be soon enough considering the precious lives we have lost over the years.
Quality equipment for the Armed Forces should be a priority.Seems unbelievable that we are risking the lives of our soldiers at the hands of faulty equipment.
FYI : A list of the most capable military transport chopper around the world.