The Army appears to have overcome doubts about the platform. In 2006, I visited Leh where Army aviation pilots had told me the Cheetal platform didn’t appeal to them since HAL had replaced the copter’s engine, but not the transmission.
The Cheetal is a re-engined variant (developed as an HAL-funded programme) of the proven Alouette II/Cheetah helicopter that HAL has license-built for over four decades. The Cheetal is powered by a Turbomeca TM 333-2M2 free turbine turboshaft engine which, according to HAL, is more fuel efficient and provides higher payload capability of 90-kg at an altitude of 6-km. “The Cheetal helicopter can operate up to 7-km altitude and has a range of 640-km with an endurance of 3.5 hours. The Cheetal is fitted with a full authority digital engine control (FADEC) system for engine control and an Electronic Backup Control Box (EBCB) system which automatically takes over engine control in the event of FADEC failure,” says HAL in a statement.