GUWAHATI: The Indian Air Force (IAF) has made its CH-47 Chinook helicopters operational in the strategic Eastern Air Command.
The deployment of the high-end helicopters comes at a time India and China are engaged in a major standoff in Ladakh.
“CH-47 Chinook advanced multi-mission helicopters are operational in Eastern Air Command & are being utilized in the service of Nation. Based at Air Force Station, Mohanbari in Dibrugarh district of Upper Assam, they will provide IAF the unmatched strategic airlift capability across the full spectrum of combat & humanitarian missions,” Shillong-based defence spokesman Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh said.
These are modern helicopters. Not only can they fly at high altitudes compared to existing assets such as Mi-17, but they can also carry more loads, Singh said.
The Mi-17 can carry 24 passengers and even small vehicles. It has a 4,000 kg internal payload capacity. In contrast, the Chinook helicopter can load around 22,000lb (10,000 kg) of freight or 55 fully armed troops.
Given the treacherous terrains in the Northeast, particularly the Himalayan state of Arunachal Pradesh, the deployment of the Chinook helicopters is being seen as the capacity build-up and boosting of assets.
One such helicopter had on Thursday dispatched essential commodities in the remote Vijoynagar circle of Changlang district. Bound on three sides by Myanmar, Vijoynagar is one of the remotest parts of India. The 16 villages there have a combined population of around 4,500.
“There goes Chinook Helicopter of @IAF_MCC carrying 83 quintals of essential commodities for remote Vijoynagar in Changlang dist from Miao today. Thankfully the weather cleared enabling essential items to be delivered to the needy in this pandemic, completing day’s task in 2 sorties,” Chief Minister Pema Khandu had tweeted.