Presented here is an Indian ‘Cheetah’ as found in the Indian Army, ready for those high altitude rescue missions in the mountainous terrain of the Himalayas. Imagine yourself exploring the roof of the world, playable in a 4K DDS and regular 2K TGA version.
Presented here is an Indian built HAL SA315 ‘Chetal’ s/n CH-259. Carrying the ID Z3455, the aircaft was delivered to the Indian Army and would often be seen operating in the mountainous areas of India. The skin represents the aircraft as how it was seen at the Yelahanka air base in 2002 (presumably during the biennial airshow). Soon after in 2003 the aircraft was given on loan by the Indian army to HAL industries as a test-bed aircraft were it still operates today, receiving a Turbomeca TM333-2M2-engine upgrade in the process.
The Alouette II in the Indian Armed Forces
In 1971 the SA 315B ‘Lama’ (or ‘Chetal’/Cheetah) was introduced into the Indian Armed Forces. It was to be the final variant of the Alouette II which was redesigned for operating in ‘hot and high’ conditions as often found in the Indian hemisphere. Included with the update was the placement of a Artouste powerplant combined with the Turbomeca Artouste turboshaft powerplant of the Alouette III in a reinforced SA315 airframe.
The aircraft served a long and successful history in the Indian Armed Forces lasting to this day, mostly operating logistical operations around inaccessible areas like the Siachen Glacier. However more recently the aircraft’s reputation has taken a toll, as the aging fleet is taking more and more losses of aircraft with often deadly results. In August 2016, it was reported that No. 114 Helicopter Unit (the first all-Chetak unit in the IAF) were keen to introduce the upgraded Cheetal to enable the unit continuous deployment on the Siachen Glacier as more and more of the serving airframes had to be cannibalized to keep the fleet serviceable.
The SA 315B ‘Lama’
Most of the SA 315B variant aircraft were built by HAL industries (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) and proved to be a key product for the company throughout the years. The success of the subtype can be proven by the helicopter absolute altitude record of 12,442 m (40,814 ft) which it set on the 21st of June 1972 by a French Built ‘Lama’ which still remains unbroken to this day. Five years after the first operational airframe, there were already 191 aircraft put on order by 68 different operators all over the world. The roles of the type are far and wide in between, most notably passenger transport, agricultural tasks, oil-and-gas exploration, aerial firefighting and others, while military duties include liaison & observation, air/sea rescue & ambulance missions.
There was also an order placed by the Nepalese goverment for an armed version called the HAL ‘Lancer’. The most mentionworthy changes were the composite armouring, toughened glas, gun sights and disposable weapons pods, each of which contains a single 12.7 mm machine gun and up to three 70 mm rockets.
In 2006 a modernised variant was proposed to the Indian Army, designated as ‘Cheetal’ (Cheetah) which included various updates like a Turbomeca TM 333-2M2 powerplant and many modernised electronics, providing a top speed 210kph and an increase in range to 560km. Initially only 10 aircraft were ordered, but in 2013 a new contract was placed by the Indian and Nepalese goverments for the purchase of a further 20 aircraft.