New Delhi, March 24: First proposed in 2006, the heavy lift Chinook helicopter that can transport artillery guns in high altitudes will finally be inducted into the Indian Air Force next week.
Four of the 15 helicopters to be purchased will be commissioned on March 25 amid heightened tensions with Pakistan.
The heavy lift helicopters will add to the Indian Army’s battle capabilities as they can transport troops and the newly inducted M777 Howitzer guns to higher reaches in combat locations.
The CH-47 Chinook is an American helicopter manufactured by Boeing and India inked a $3 billion (around Rs 20,600 crore at today’s exchange rate) deal in 2015.
Though used in support of the Army, the helicopters will be operated by the Indian Air Force. IAF had been using the Mi-26 heavy lift helicopters since 1987, but these needed to be replaced
The addition of these helicopters is expected to give a boost in India’s capabilities particularly keeping in mind the requirement of quick mobilisation of troops in higher reaches along the Line of Control and the China frontier along with artillery guns. The Chinook can it can land on small helipads and narrow valleys.
The first batch of the four helicopters will be based in Chandigarh.
In its latest report on capital acquisitions by the Indian Air Force (IAF) the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had discussed several reasons that led to the delay of these helicopters being procured.
The CAG also raised questions on the choice of Chinook since its parameters were lower than the Mi26.
“Audit noted that though the existing Mi-26 helicopters were to be replaced with new HLH, the parameters formulated for procurement were much lower. The max pay load capacity was reduced to 11000 kgs as against the 20000 kgs of Mi 26 helicopters. Seating capacity was also reduced to 45 troops as against the 82 troops of Mi-26 helicopters. The max underslung load was reduced to 10,000 kgs as against the underslung load capacity of 20,000 kgs of Mi-26 helicopter,” the CAG stated in its report.
The other Chinook helicopters are likely to be delivered by March 2020 allowing India to deploy them both for Pakistan and China operations.
Later this year, the Indian Air Force is also expected to induct the Apache attack helicopters keeping in mind the two front threats of China and Pakistan.