Cheetah copter becomes another flying coffin for Indian pilots

After MiG 21, now Cheetah helicopters have also become ‘flying coffin’ for Indian armed forces as at least five Indian army pilots have lost their lives in air crashes in the past six months alone.

A helicopter that crashed on Friday in the Gurez sector of Kashmir, killing its pilot Major Sankalp Yadav and critically injuring the co-pilot, was the third fatal crash for the Army Aviation Corps since September last year. Two of these crashes involved a single-engine Cheetah helicopter.

Major Yadav was the fifth pilot to have lost his life in crashes in six months. On August 3 last year, a HAL-built ALH-WSI Rudra twin-engine copter crashed into the lake of Ranjit Sagar Dam across the Ravi. Lt Col AS Baath and Capt Jayant Joshi lost their lives in the crash. Their mortal remains were taken out of the lake after weeks of efforts.

On September 21 last year, a Cheetah helicopter crashed near Patni Top in Jammu and Kashmir, claiming the lives of Major Rohit Kumar and Major Anuj Rajput.
For over a decade, efforts to replace the entire fleet of ageing Cheetah helicopters have failed to materialise.