In­dia gets first batch of four Boe­ing heavy-lift Chi­nook he­li­copters

Mint ST - - POLITICS - El­iz­a­beth Roche el­iz­a­[email protected] NEW DELHI

In­dia on Sun­day re­ceived the first four of 15 Boe­ing Co.’s Chi­nook he­li­copters that are ex­pected to bol­ster the heavy-lift ca­pa­bil­i­ties of its air force and fur­ther strengthen the fast-ex­pand­ing de­fence ties with the US.

The ac­qui­si­tion, which was in the works for sev­eral years, is also ex­pected to give a sig­nif­i­cant boost to in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment along In­dia’s bor­ders given the Chi­nook has the ca­pa­bil­ity to ferry heavy cargo like road con­struc­tion equip­ment over dif­fi­cult ter­rain.

The four he­li­copters ar­rived by sea and were handed over to In­dian au­thor­i­ties at the Mun­dra port in Gu­jarat, Boe­ing In­dia said in a state­ment.

In­dia had in 2018 signed a $3 bil­lion con­tract for the pur­chase of 15 Chi­nook and 22 Apache at­tack he­li­copters, three years af­ter first de­cid­ing to buy the equip­ment.

The Boe­ing plat­forms would re­place the Rus­sia­made Mi-17 medium-lift he­li­copters, the Mi-26 he­li­copters and Mi-35 at­tack he­li­copters.

In­dia has rapidly scaled up pur­chases of de­fence equip­ment from the US as it sought to di­ver­sify from its big­gest sup­plier, Rus­sia, and to keep pace with the mil­i­tary mod­ern­iza­tion plans of China and Pak­istan. In the past, In­dia has ordered mil­i­tary hard­ware worth bil­lions of dol­lars from the US in­clud­ing anti-sub­ma­rine war­fare planes, air­craft and mis­siles.

The twin-ro­tor CH-47F (I) Chi­nooks will be fer­ried to Chandi­garh, where it will be for­mally in­ducted into the air force later this year. The Chi­nooks are ex­pected to join the 126 He­li­copter Flight unit, which op­er­ates the last batch of Mi-26 chop­pers.

“The CH-47F (I) Chi­nook is an ad­vanced multi-mis­sion he­li­copter that will pro­vide the In­dian armed forces with un­matched strate­gic air­lift ca­pa­bil­ity across the full spec­trum of com­bat and hu­man­i­tar­ian mis­sions,” Boe­ing said.

“The ahead-of-sched­ule ar­rival of the Chi­nooks val­i­dates Boe­ing’s com­mit­ment to de­liv­er­ing on its prom­ise of mod­ern­iz­ing In­dia’s de­fence forces,” it said.

The Chi­nooks can carry goods and cargo of up to 9.6 tonnes each. This in­cludes men and ma­chines—like ar­tillery guns and light ar­moured ve­hi­cles—to high al­ti­tudes. The he­li­copter can also of­fer sup­port dur­ing dis­as­ter re­lief, med­i­cal evac­u­a­tion, search and res­cue mis­sions, air­craft re­cov­ery and para­chute drops, ac­cord­ing to Boe­ing.

The com­pany has pro­duced 1,179 Chi­nooks so far.

TWIT­[email protected]_IN

The CH-47F(I) Chi­nooks will be fer­ried to Chandi­garh, where it will be for­mally in­ducted into IAF later this year.

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