Four Chinook heavy-lift helicopters made in the US were inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF) in Chandigarh on March 25. Speaking at the event, IAF chief air chief marshal BS Dhanoa said induction of Chinook would be a game-changer the way the Rafale would be on the fighter fleet.
The first four of the 15 CH-47F (I) Chinook helicopters, ordered from Boeing in September 2015, were commissioned into the IAF 126 Helicopter Unit (HU). The Chinook, twin-engine, tandem rotor, is multi-role, vertical-lift platform, which is used for transporting troops, artillery, equipment and fuel. The helicopter can carry out military operations not only during the day but at night too.
Speaking at the function here, Dhanoa said, “Our country faces a multitude of security challenges, we require vertical lift capability across a very diversified terrain.”
The IAF operates from bases which are from sea level to very high altitude advance landing grounds. The helicopter will give the IAF quantum leap in terms of ability to transport cargo to precarious high altitude locations. The aircraft is one of its best in its category, he said. The all-weather capable aircraft can also used for humanitarian and disaster relief operations and in missions such as transportation of relief supplies and mass evacuation of refugees.
‘It is a red-letter day for the Air Force as we are inducting the Chinook helicopters which gives us a tremendous capability, primarily in the inter-valley troop transfer. In inter-valley troop transfer, what is very important is ability to operate from high altitudes to take acclimatized troops from one valley to another valley,’ he said while interacting with reporters.
When asked about Pakistan Air Force chief Mujahid Anwar Khan leading a fly-past at the Pakistan Day joint military parade in Islamabad on March 23, Dhanoa said: “The Pakistan Air Force chief was flying from rear cockpit, just look from where he was flying.”
Citing an example about how Chinooks can be helpful in non-military roles, he said, “After the floods which occurred in Uttarakhand earlier and natural disaster in other hilly areas, there is a requirement to lift heavy loads, especially re-construction equipment, so that we can open roads and communication can be re-established. The helicopter is not only with the Air Force for the military role, it is a national asset.”
Named after the courageous American-Indian tribes, the aircraft outperforms in its mobility, agility, flexibility and endurance, the IAF chief said. He said all the 15 Chinook helicopters will not be stationed at Chandigarh Air Force Stations. 12 Wing as another unit of heavy-lift choppers will be created in Dinjan (Assam).
Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Air Command Air Marshal R Nambiar, Major General Robin Fontes from the US, Boeing India head Salil Gupte and Haryana, Director-General of Police Manoj Yadava were among others present on the occasion.