‘Chetak’ not just a machine but a vibrant platform that served the nation in peace & war, says Rajnath
Hyderabad, April 2, 2022
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today said the "Chetak" helicopter was not just a machine, but a vibrant and dedicated entity that has been continuously engaged in the service of the nation for the past six decades.
Addressing a conclave organised here to commemorate 60 years of the Chetak helicopter’s service to the nation, the Defence Minister said the 700 Chetaks manufactured so far have served the nation in war and peace.
“Chetak has proved its mettle on the battlefield by targeting enemies with accuracy and successfully landing troops. It has also helped in delivering essential logistics. It has saved precious lives through its evacuation efforts in case of emergency. It has provided important information whenever needed, which has helped in decision making and paving way for victory in wars.
"Chetak has always been at the forefront in providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief during natural calamities. This is the first time a platform has reached this stage. The helicopter, through adaptation, modification and upgradation, remains a frontline platform even after 60 years of its creation," he said.
The conclave was organised by the Indian Air Force at Air Force Station, Hakimpet. Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhuri, senior retired and serving officers of the helicopter stream from the three services and officials of the Ministry of Defence, Indian Coast Guard and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) were present on the occasion.
“The safety and security of the country is the Government’s top priority and all efforts are being made to safeguard its unity and integrity,” the Minister said.
“Whenever a country fights a war for safety and security, it is not just the Armed Forces who take part. The whole nation fights that war. The scientists, engineers and technicians of organisations like HAL, who develop helicopters like ‘Chetak’ and other platforms, play an equally important role as our soldiers. Lakhs of employees and workers associated with MSMEs also contribute by supplying parts to these projects. This conclave celebrates the hard work and dedication of all of them.”
The Minister said India has shown its strength in the design, development and operation of helicopters in the five-tonne category. The indigenously designed and developed Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv and its variants as examples of India's prowess. He described the Light Combat Helicopter as another example of the country’s capability in light helicopters for combat operations. Light Utility Helicopters, being operated by the Armed Forces, are also great examples of the capability in the helicopter sector, he added.
He stressed the need to march forward in the design and development of the 10-tonne Indian Multirole Helicopter which, he said, was a significant requirement for the Armed Forces with huge market potential. He called for fast-tracking the design and development of helicopter technology in the country, terming it as one of the dual-use technologies which will not only prove to be effective in the defence sector but make India a dominant force in the helicopter market.
“According to an estimate, there is a demand for more than 1,000 civilian helicopters in the country and an equal number of helicopters in the defence sector. We need to exploit this huge potential in the helicopter market. In addition, we need to make efforts to strengthen India's claim in the Rotary wing domain. The era is changing. I am sure that in the times to come we will be more bright, strong and completely self-reliant,” he added.
He reiterated the Government’s resolve of achieving "Aatmanirbharta" (self-reliance) in defence production and preparedness, given the constantly changing global security scenario.
“These days, there have been challenges in ensuring supply lines. The external situation has affected the serviceability of critical weapons and equipment. Therefore, we are leaving no stone unturned to achieve self-reliance.
“Earlier, the country was dependent on imports from other countries to bolster the defence sector. This Government believes in strengthening our own shoulders to protect ourselves. We are making sure that India is not dependent on anyone,” he stressed.
By being strong, India does not mean establishing dominance in the world. India has always followed the path of truth, non-violence & peace and does not support aggression of any kind. He stressed that the relationship between peace, security and military power has deepened in the country in the last few years.
Underlining the importance of a strong security apparatus for nations to maintain peace in the world, he stated that in the last few years the Government has created an environment that has enabled the Armed Forces, scientists and defence manufacturers to think pro-actively and move forward on the path of making India strong and self-reliant.
The Defence Minister spoke on the major role domestic industry can play in achieving "Aatmanirbhar Bharat". “Free technology is being transferred to the private companies by DRDO. FDI limit has also been increased. Two positive indigenisation lists of defence items have been issued, while the third list will be out soon,” he said, listing out the measures being taken by the Government to encourage the participation of the private sector.
He said there was a huge positive response from the three Services, research and development organisations and public and private sector industries. The MSMEs, start-ups, innovators and academia were together exploring new avenues of defence production, he said.
The conclave was organised to provide a platform to showcase six decades of helicopter operations in the country, highlighting the operations of Chetak. The event comprised reflections, narrations and discussions by prominent speakers from the veteran community and the Services.