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Chinook fleet grounding in US to have no impact on IAF; Aaj Tak report alarmist

The US decision to ground its entire fleet of Chinook helicopters after some cases of engine fires has not impacted operations of the iconic heavy-lift helicopters by the Indian Air Force (IAF), which has sought more details on the issue from the and aviation major Boeing. IAF sources said that news reports in India that have raised an alarm are ill-informed.

“IAF Chinooks are flying as before… they have not faced any issues. From what we know, the US grounded its Chinook fleet after a few instances of engine fires due to fuel leaks took place in some helicopters that had undergone engine overhauls and maintenance,” an official said on 31 August.

The 15 Chinooks, equipped with powerful contra-rotating tandem rotors, inducted by the IAF in 2019-2020 under a Rs 8,048 crore deal in September 2015, are relatively new to undergoing such overhauls.

Moreover, it is the norm for an aircraft or helicopter fleet to be grounded after incidents for safety checks. “The US helicopters that underwent the engine overhauls were apparently fitted with some new components or parts,” another official said.

IAF has extensively flown the Chinooks to transport M-777 ultra-light howitzers and troops to forward and high-altitude areas along the Line of Actual Control with China during the continuing military confrontation with eastern Ladakh, which is into its third year now.

IAF has also inducted 22 Boeing-manufactured Apache attack helicopters under another Rs 13,952 crore deal inked with the US in September 2015, while the is slated to get six such heavy-duty helicopters under a Rs 5,691 crore deal in February 2020.

The Navy has now also begun to induct the first lot of the 24 submarine-hunting MH-60 “Romeo” multi-mission helicopters — the third iconic US helicopter to be imported — under the Rs 15,157 crore contract inked in February 2020.

10 things to know about the iconic US-made Chinook helicopter

The US has grounded its entire fleet of CH-47 Chinook helicopters because of a risk of engine fires.

The IAF operates a fleet of 15 Boeing-made Chinook helicopters, which were acquired from the US under a Rs 8,048-crore deal in September 2015. They were inducted into service in March 2019.

Here are 10 things to know about the iconic heavy-lift helicopter:

  1. Chinook helicopters have two rotors (powered by a pair of Honeywell T55 engines) working in tandem that give it massive lifting capabilities.
  2. The Chinook has several means of loading cargo including multiple doors across the fuselage, a wide loading ramp located at the rear of the fuselage and three external hooks to carry underslung loads.
  3. The Chinook can transport up to 45 troops and 11 tonnes of cargo. It also has a load capability of 10 tonnes underslung.
  4. It is also very effective in rescue and relief missions during national disasters, due to its capability to carry heavy loads.
  5. The Chinook is capable of balancing on its two rear wheels, on the edge of a cliff for example, while still hovering in a manoeuvre called a pinnacle landing.
  6. It is named after the Native American people of Oregon and Washington, the Chinookan People of Northwestern US.
  7. It was commissioned in the US in the early 1960s.
  8. It has a top speed of 310 km per hour and is one of the fastest helicopters in the world.
  9. Apart from Lockheed C-130 Hercules, it is the only cargo aircraft designed in 1960 that is still being manufactured and is in active service.
  10. It is currently functioning in over 22 countries, including the United Kingdom, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, and South Korea.

India's Chinook fleet is stationed in and Assam to take care of the operational needs of the north and the northeast parts of the country.

IAF extensively flew the Chinooks to transport M-777 ultra-light howitzers and troops to forward and high-altitude areas along the Line of Actual Control with China during the continuing military confrontation with eastern Ladakh, which is into its third year now.

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