The Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to induct four Boeing Chinook heavy-lift helicopters (HLH) on March 25. The aircraft were delivered to the country one month ahead of the schedule in early February.
The helicopters will join the IAF base at Chandigarh city in the north-western part of India, that caters to the high altitude operations of the armed forces, The Week reported Wednesday.
At Chandigarh, the helicopters will become a part of the No 126 Helicopter flight squadron (Featherweights), which currently operates the last four of Russian Mi-26 heavy lift helicopters.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) raised questions on the choice of Chinook since its parameters were lower than the Mi-26, according to a report by India Today.
"Although 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.
India had cleared the purchase of 22 Apaches and 15 Chinook helicopters for the IAF in a deal worth $3 billion (INR 20,600 Crore) from the United States (US) in 2015. The defence ministry had also finalised its order with Boeing for the production, training and support of the helicopters. IAF crews had begun their training on the Chinooks at Delaware in the US last year. The first Chinook helicopter was handed over to the IAF in Philadelphia in the first week of February.
The CH-47F Chinook aircraft is a twin-engine, tandem rotor, heavy-lift helicopter. It can fly at speeds of nearly 175 mph and carry payloads greater than 21,000 lbs.