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India to hand over three Cheetal copters to Kabul

Cheetals are upgraded variants of Cheetah light utility, multi-role helicopters built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish

Cheetals are upgraded variants of Cheetah light utility, multi-role helicopters built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish   | Photo Credit: Sushanta Patronobish

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to hand over three indigenously-built Cheetal multi-role helicopters during the visit of Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani to India at the end of this month, diplomatic sources confirmed. This comes amid increasing perception that India’s strategic space in Afghanistan is under threat after formation of the new Unity government there and its major policy shift towards Pakistan and China.

Cheetals are the upgraded variants of Cheetah light utility, multi-role helicopters built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. They can be used for personnel transport, casualty evacuation, reconnaissance and aerial survey, logistic support and rescue and can operate in high-altitude areas, a critical requirement for Afghanistan's mountainous regions. They have been customised as per the requirements of Afghanistan and will not be armed, the sources said.

Repeated requests

Afghanistan has in the past repeatedly requested India for military assistance and lethal hardware, including tanks, helicopters and artillery guns among others in addition to training of military personnel. But India had been reluctant to antagonise Pakistan which views India’s role in Afghanistan with suspicion.

Strategic patnership

Officials said that the choppers are being supplied under the strategic partnership agreement between the two counties signed in 2011.

They were promised to Afghanistan in 2014 when Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai visited India and met with then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon but the delivery got delayed for several reasons.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 11:24:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-to-hand-over-three-cheetal-copters-to-kabul/article7123446.ece

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