The first four CH-47F (I) Chinooks for the Indian Air Force (IAF) have arrived at the Mundra Port in Gujarat on Sunday.
According to Boeing the CH-47F (I) Chinooks will be ferried to Chandigarh, where it will be formally inducted in the IAF later this year. Adding that the Chinooks have been delivered ahead of schedule, and its commitment to help modernize India’s defence forces intact.
As has been reported earlier by the Financial Express Online, Air Force Station Chandigarh will be the base for the IAF Chinooks and these heavy lift choppers will be now part of the No 126 Helicopter Flight also known as the Featherweights. The squadron currently operates the last of four Russian Mil Mi-26s.
“Through its current partnerships with the IAF and Indian Navy, Boeing has ensured high rate of mission readiness and increased operational capabilities,” says a Boeing statement.
The handing over ceremony of the first Chinook was held at Philadelphia in the US early this month. The current deliveries are expected to be completed by 2023.
India had signed a government-to-government deal with the US in September, 2015, for 15 Chinooks, with an additional option of seven more platforms.
With its multirole capabilities Chinooks are expected to play a life-saving role during HADR (humanitarian assistance and disaster relief) missions, for which the IAF fleets are often pressed into services.
India was to start taking deliveries of the Boeing AH-64E Apache Longbow attack Helicopters and Chinook CH 47F (I) helicopters, in March and July onwards respectively this year.
The delivery of Apache helicopters by the company will start in July and will be completed by March 2020 and the delivery of the Chinooks which has already arrived earlier than the schedule is expected to be completed by March 2020.
These helicopters are important milestones towards strengthening Indian armed forces capabilities as they will be replacing the ageing helicopters in the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The helicopters coming through the Foreign Military (FMS) route was inked in 2015 worth $3 billion for 22 Boeing AH-64E Apache Longbow attack Helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy-lift machines. There is an inbuilt clause for follow-on orders for 11 more Apaches and seven Chinooks.
The helicopters made in the US will be coming to India in semi knocked down (SKD) condition and will be reassembled in India, and re-tested before being formally sent to their base in Chandigarh.
Senior officers confirmed to the Financial Express Online that “after being re-assembled the machines will be tested and the pilots and ground staff will all be trained on the ground here locally in India before the machines is formally inducted into IAF.” Infrastructure for the helicopters has already been set up which includes two hangars and a maintenance area as well as logistical and technical facilities.
As has been reported earlier, the first Chinook airframe manufactured for the Indian Air Force was tested in the US in July 2018, followed by training of the pilots and four engineers in Delaware for conversion training on Chinooks.
According to the company website Chinooks have a payload capacity of about 10 tonne and is expected to provide much-needed strength to the IAF heavy-lift capability. These helicopters are expected to lift artillery, vehicles, road construction and engineer equipment as well as troops and supplies to mountainous sectors in North and North-East.
Indian industry partners such as Dynamatics are building large sections of Chinook, and the Tata Boeing joint venture in Hyderabad is building the complete fuselage of the Apache.
What is Chinook Helicopter?
According to the company website, the CH-47F Chinook is an advanced multi-mission helicopter operated by the US Army and 18 other defense forces. It has the proven ability to operate in different terrains and conditions.
It has the capability to airlift the M777 lightweight howitzers that have been inducted in the Indian Army’s Artillery last year.
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Source: Financial Express