Chetan Multipurpose Helicopter
As of 2005, the HAL Chetak was scheduled to be replaced by the Dhruv ALH. As an alternative, the Chetak could be re-engined with the Turbomeca TM 333-2B engine. The Chetak was originally powered by Turbomeca's Artouste IIIB engine. The first test flight of the upgraded Chetak, dubbed "Chetan", was carried out in February 2005. According to Turbomeca, a minimum of 200 Chetak helicopters could be upgraded. A similar option exists to re-engine the HAL Cheetah to the Cheetal variant using the TM 333-2B engine as well.
The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited's (HAL) re-engined and upgraded Chetak helicopter -- Chetan created history when it successfully completed hot and high altitude tests in the Siachen Glacier recently. With this performance, Chetan has proved that it can conquer the Himalayan heights up to its service ceiling of 21,300 feet. Till now, the operations of the Chetak were restricted to 10,000 feet, due to a number of limitations.
Piloted by Wg Cdr P.S. Rao and Wg Cdr S. Jain, the Chetan underwent a series of trials from August 16 to 23rd in the Siachen Glacier under hostile conditions. "We have gone for a trial validation and Chetan had never operated there before. The tests were conducted well within the existing envelope of the original helicopter (Chetak)," the pilots, who are just back in Bangalore, said.
Though, the armed forces are operating the Cheetah for high altitude operations, the Chetan provides certain significant benefits over the Cheetah, due to its larger cabin volume. The recent tests by HAL have proven that the Chetan can comfortably carry a payload of up to 100 kg at altitudes of 21,000 feet and at temperatures up to international standard atmosphere ISA+15 deg C.
Complementing his boys for this challenging effort, HAL Chairman Mr Ashok K. Baweja said: "It's a significant achievement by Chetan making all of us in HAL fraternity proud. Chetan is sure to become a friend in need for the lying casualty thereby giving a morale boost for our troops."
The large cabin volume of the Chetan will enable carriage of up to 5 passengers or large voluminous loads. This will be a good morale booster for the troops employed in such adverse environmental conditions. "Chetan's fete is a double delight to Team HAL and a long-cherished dream, which opens up many new vistas for our troops serving in adverse conditions. It will now enable the evacuation of lying casualty even from the highest helipad in the Glacier, says Wg Cdr (Retd) C.D. Upadhyay, HAL Chief Test Pilot.
The Chetan project was commenced by HAL in January 2005 after the success of re-engining of the Cheetah helicopter (now Cheetal), which created the world's highest landing record. The project was taken up as an in-house effort by HAL, mainly to fulfil the vacuum that existed as far as casualty evacuation at high altitude was concerned. The project was moved on a fast track and all the required modifications and flight tests have been completed in a record time of eight months.
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