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 Russia-made 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.