In yet another boost to the Indian defence capabilities, the first four of the fifteen Chinook CH-47F (I) heavy lift helicopters that were ordered by the Indian Air Force from the United States, in 2015, have arrived in India. The helicopters were handed over to the Indian Air Force earlier this month in Philadelphia. The Chinooks arrived at the Mundra port in Gujarat on Sunday. Boeing announced the arrival of the helicopters and stated that they will be ferried to Chandigarh and they will be formally inducted in the IAF later this year.
It is important to mention here that the helicopters have arrived ahead of the set schedule. Boeing in a statement said, “the ahead-of-schedule arrival of the Chinooks validates Boeing’s commitment to delivering on its promise of modernising India’s defence forces.” The company added, “through its current partnerships with Indian Air Force and Indian Navy, Boeing has ensured a high rate of mission readiness and increased operational capabilities.”
As per sources, the helicopters will be assembled after which they will be sent to Chandigarh where the Chinooks will become part of the 126 Helicopter Flight, which is a unit that operates the last of the Soviet origin Mi-26 choppers. This acquisition will prove to be a shot in the arm for the Indian Air Force. The Chinook Helicopter is a multi-role, vertical-lift platform, which is used in the transportation of troops, artillery, equipment and fuel. Apart from this, it is also used in disaster relief and evacuation operations such as transportation of relief supplies and evacuation operations.
The Chinook helicopters have come as a matter of huge relief for India. These helicopters have a payload capacity of a mind boggling 10 tonnes and they would assist the IAF in its heavy-lifting capabilities. It must be kept in mind that before Chinooks, this task was undertaken by the Mi-26 choppers. However, only one of the four such Mi-26 choppers that India had is fit for service now. Therefore, the induction of the four out of fifteen Chinook helicopters in the IAF will solve the issue of heavy-lifting capabilities to a great extent. The government had signed a deal with the United States in 2015, for the delivery of 15 Chinook helicopters, with an option of another four available on demand, apart from 22 AH 64 Apache attack helicopters that would be based elsewhere.
The Chinook helicopters are famous for their impressive payload capacity and will make the job of the Indian Air Force a lot more easier when it comes to lifting artilery, vehicles and other heavy engineering equipment. It will also prove to be a game changer in case of covert operations like the historical surgical strikes of 2016, as well as facilitate supplies to mountainous sectors in the North and North-East. This deal and the arrival of the helicopters ahead of schedule evidences the firm commitment of the Modi government as far as the strengthening of the Indian defence forces is concerned.
The Modi government has shown a far better attitude in the acquisition of defence weapons and equipment when compared to the UPA government. The incumbent government has been far more dedicated and committed to the cause of the Indian military forces and a number of deals considerably boosting India’s defence capabilities have been signed in the recent past. Last year, India signed an S-400 air defence system deal with Russia. The Russia-built S-400 Triumf or SA-21 Growler as called by NATO — is the world’s best operational long-range surface-to-air missile. Moreover, in another boost to the Indian Armed Forces M777 American Ultra Light Howitzers and K9 Vajra artillery guns were formally inducted in the Indian Army. It was the first major procurement of artillery guns after the purchase of the Bofors guns in the 1980s. It was also reported last year that the Indian government is likely to buy 24 MH-60 helicopters in a government to government deal from the United States for the Indian Navy. From all these deals, it is amply clear that the Indian defence capabilities have got a major boost under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi. The NDA government has staged a major turnaround as far as India’s defence capabilities are concerned.