The US-based aerospace giant Boeing completed deliveries of its CH-47F (I) Chinooks to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in March just before the nation-wide lockdown in India. Sources in the Indian Air Force (IAF) have confirmed to Financial Express Online that “The final five of the 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters were handed over to the IAF at the Air Force Station, Chandigarh, just before the countrywide lockdown.”
These helicopters have come to India through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route and as per the contract between the governments of India and the US; the delivery of these helicopters was to be completed by March 2020.
In September 2015, a deal worth $3 billion which included 22 Boeing AH-64E Apache Longbow attack Helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy-lift machines were signed and it has an inbuilt clause for follow-on orders for 11 more Apaches and seven Chinooks. The contract for the Chinook helicopters was for $1.1 billion.
More about the CH-47F (I)
The H-47 Chinook is an advanced multi-mission helicopter that provides the Indian Air Force with unmatched strategic airlift capability across the full spectrum of combat and humanitarian missions.
It contains a fully integrated glass cockpit for mission management, a digital advanced flight control system to enhance aircrew safety, and advanced cargo-handling capabilities that allow aircrews to quickly and easily shift from moving cargo to transporting people and vehicles. All of these features are designed to increase aircrew safety while reducing crew workload and operational risk.
Chinooks are used by the US Army and by the armed forces of more than 19 countries around the world, many of which have been operating Chinooks for several decades.
Why are Chinooks critical for IAF?
Coming with a payload capability of 10 tonnes and high altitude performance, these helicopters have filled the gap in IAF’s heavy-lift helicopter capability. Till these helicopters arrived IAF had been depending on its small fleet of Russian built Mi-26 helicopter.
For Operations in the Indian environment, the machines made in the West or in Russia have to go through gruelling demands when they fly at 20000 ft., unlike in other parts of the world where it would average between 5000 and 10000 ft, and with an exception of 15000 ft.
In flying at high altitudes there are severe demands on the engines, there is a reduction in payload and lastly and most importantly it impacts the total technical life.
The primary role of the helicopters is for transportation of troops, artillery, equipment, and fuel.
The Indian Army is also keen on getting these for transportation and deployment of its recently procured M-777 Ultra-Light howitzer artillery guns from the BAE Systems, US, in the Himalayan border regions with China.
These helicopters have been of great help in the construction of infrastructure and border road projects especially in the North East.