The Indian Air Force (IAF) has inducted the first four of 15 Boeing CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters ordered in late 2015.
“The Chinooks will provide the IAF with the battle capability that was not there earlier,” Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa said on 25 March while inducting the platforms into the 126 Helicopter Flight unit at the Chandigarh airbase, which is located about 250 km north of New Delhi.
“Fitted with India-specific enhancements, these Chinooks can undertake operations round the clock and will be a game-changer for the IAF’s helicopter operations,” he added.
The first batch of four Chinooks arrived at Mundra Port on India’s west coast on 10 February, about four weeks ahead of schedule, after which they were assembled and ferried to Chandigarh.
Boeing and IAF officials told Jane’s that delivery of the remaining 11 Chinooks is expected to be completed by March 2020, and that some of these platforms will comprise the IAF’s second heavy-lift helicopter unit at Dinjan airbase in India’s northeastern state of Assam, close to India’s disputed border with China.
Acquired in 2015 for USD1.1 billion via a direct commercial sale agreement, the Chinooks are supplementing the IAF’s depleted fleet of three Soviet-era Mil Mi-26 ‘Halo’ heavy-lift helicopters, all of which are expected to be overhauled in Russia to extend their total technical life.
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