SA-315 Alouette II Cheetah
Cheetah combines in it the advantageous constructional features of Alouette II & III with design changes to fit in the role of an aircraft of light weight, increased pay load and high altitude performance capability. It was awarded civil airworthiness certificate on 21 Jan 1972. It can carry five passengers including the pilots and has a skid type undercarriage. The Alouette II, with the dynamics including powerplant of the Alouette Ill was specifically developed to meet the Indian Army's stringent requirement and was christened Lama by the French (and Cheetah by the Indians). The SA-315B licence-agreement was signed in September 1970. First Cheetah manufactured from raw materials was delivered in 1976-77.
These helicopters can be used for transportation of passengers, causality evacuation, rescue, cargo carrying, reconnaissance, weapon carrying and can land and take off from snow or water, with appropriate equipment installed. For army support, a wide range of armaments can be fitted like a fixed swiveling cannon, machine guns, and rocket launchers. For navy, it is advantageous since it can be operated from small decks or small platforms for convey protection and coastal patrol duties.
In the initial stages of helicopter manufacturing, except for the assembly departments, all other shops were common with those of Aircraft Division. Consequent to the re-organisation of the Bangalore Complex, a separate division was evolved for the manufacture of helicopters, established in July 1970 and the new buildings of the Helicopter Division inaugurated by the then President of India, V.V.Giri on 17 July 1974.
Over the next twenty years, HAL's Helicopter Division produced hundreds of Chetak and Cheetah helicopters for the Indian Air Force, Navy, Army and Coast Guard as also for a number of civilian customers, including State Governments while a score or more were exported. The Division has produced 336 Chetak and 246 Cheetah Helicopters so far and overhauled more than 200 helicopters of both the types. It has also undertaken the Cat 'B' repairs of more than 75 helicopters and put them back into operation.
Artouste III B Engine powers both Cheetah and Chetak helicopters. The engine manufacture commenced in 1962 under licence from Turbomeca, France. The engine has side air intake, one axial and one centrifugal compressor connected to a three stage turbine. The power output is 550 SHP at 33500 RPM. The reduction gear box in the front transfers the power to helicopter. More than 665 engines have been manufactured and 2950 engines overhauled & repaired for various customers.
The Cheetal is a hybrid machine - having the airframe of Cheetah and an engine of the ALH. This newer version of the Cheetah helicopter which is manufactured under licence by HAL and has a more powerful TM 333 2B2 Snecma engine instead of the original Artouste-IIIB power plant. The project made headlines in 2004 when a prototype made the world's highest landing at the 25,000 feet Sasir Kangri peak. Hit by a delay of over two years - the initial deadline was 2006 - the first helicopter finally joined the Leh-based 114 "Siachen Pioneers" Helicopter Unit in late 2008 and would gradually replace all the Cheetah helicopters.
The IAF has placed an initial order of 20 helicopters to replace its Cheetahs but eventually plans to modify all the helicopters in its inventory by fitting them with the new engine. The Air Force will also be getting new light observation helicopters over the next five years [2008-2013]. As of 2007 Aircraft manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) seemed likely to shift the Cheetal helicopter unit out of Bangalore.
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