India’s Chetan helicopter, formerly known as Chetak, made its first flight Feb. 1 in Bangalore, powered by a new Snecma TM 333 2B2 engine.
Senior helicopter designers at Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), where the copters were upgraded, told DefenseNews.com that with the successful flight, HAL has set a record for India’s fastest aeronautical upgrade program. But the designers did not specify the time frame for the upgrades.
The Cheetah and the former Chetak are the Indian military’s only helicopters that can fly above altitudes of 22,000 feet. They have been used to deliver supplies in the higher reaches of Jammu and Kashmir.
The re-engined Chetan helicopter will use less fuel, be more reliable and capable of flying even higher, an Indian Air Force official claimed.
The Snecma TM 333 2B2 engine also is being used in the homegrown Advanced Light Helicopter and replaces the Chetak helicopter’s current Artouste 3B engine.
HAL designers said the Chetan has yet to receive civil certification from the Director-General of Civil Aviation.
The Indian defense forces have a fleet of around 300 Cheetah and Chetak helicopters built by HAL under license from France’s Eurocopter.