The United States Army on Wednesday grounded its entire fleet of Chinook helicopters following some instances of engine fires. However, the decision hasn't had any impact on the operations of the iconic heavy-lift choppers used by the Indian Air Force. The Indian government has reportedly sought more details on the issue from Washington and aerospace major Boeing.
The incidents of engine fire in the US Army's Chinook fleet is likely caused by a fuel leak. The decision to ground the fleet is standard procedure in order to conduct safety checks for 70 helicopters. Another official said that the US choppers underwent engine overhauls as they were fitted with some new components or parts. The incidents haven't caused any injuries or deaths.
The Chinook helicopter is a heavy-lift utility vehicle, which is used by both regular and special army forces. It is used to ferry logistics as well as troops and has been in use in the US Army for over six decades.
No impact on IAF Chinooks
IAF government officials haven't reported any problems with its Chinook fleet and is operational. The Indian Army, however, hasn't released an official statement on the matter.
"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 choppers that had undergone engine overhauls and maintenance," an official familiar with the development was quoted as saying.
Chinook choppers are used by the Indian Army in high-altitude areas in Ladakh and the Northeast extensively, in order to move artillery, weapons, and troops. To recall, the Chinooks set a record in April this year when it flew the longest non-stop chopper sortie in India. It flew a distance of 1,910 km in seven and a half hours.
IAF's fleet consists of 15 Chinooks, equipped with contra-rotating tandem rotors. They were inducted into the force in 2019-2020. The order for the same was placed in September 2015 for Rs 8,048 crore. IAF's Chinooks are relatively new to encounter similar problems as the US Army fleet, according to sources.