New Delhi: Plans to replace the ageing
Cheetah and Chetak chopper fleet of the Army and Air Force are
set to get delayed, thanks to indecision of the Defence
Ministry over conducting of the field trials.
The original plan was to induct 197 Light Utility
Helicopters (LUHs) starting from 2009-10 but the process has
not moved beyond the Request for Proposal stage and the
vendors response to it.
The summer trials were planned to be held by June-July
this year but they have not been held, resulting in delay of
six months in the fresh acquisition process for the choppers.
Winter trials, whose deadline is February 15, 2010, are
also unlikely to be held as no decision has yet been taken on
the schedule, Army sources told news agencies here.
This is the second time the Rs 3,500 crore tender has
been released for inducting 197 LUHs as the first acquisition
process was cancelled in 2007 after it was found that
Eurocopter had fielded a civilian variant of its chopper for
The cancellation of the previous process in 2007 had
pushed back the deal by four years and the present delays in
the field trials would mean that the choppers can start
getting inducted only in 2013-14 given there are no further
delays in the process, they said.