Twelve Indian Air Force pilots and as many flight engineers underwent special training in the US to operate Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, which were inducted into the Indian Air Force or IAF on Monday.
The first four of the 15 CH-47F (I) Chinook helicopters, which were ordered from Boeing in September 2015, were commissioned into the IAF's 126 Helicopter Unit (HU) at a ceremony held in Chandigarh.
After inducting the helicopters, IAF chief BS Dhanoa said induction of Chinook will be a game changer the way the Rafale is going to be in the fighter fleet.
Senior IAF officers present at the event said the combination of Mi-26 chopper and Chinooks in a single unit will give the 126 HU an unmatched air mobility capability never replicated anywhere in the world, directly contributing to the operational preparedness and potential of the Indian armed forces.
IAF pilot Anupam Yadav, who underwent the special training in the US for flying the chopper, said, "This is the first tandem rotor helicopter inducted into the Air Force, its flying characteristics were new for us. For this, experienced pilots of Boeing helped us, they had operational exposure as they had been deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq."
The helicopter can carry out military operations not only during the day but at night too.
"Primary use for which we have got training is cargo and load transport. In cargo, the chopper can carry load up to 11 tonne in forward areas, artillery guns, bulldozers, road building equipment, all these things it can carry underslung (suspended from the underside of the chopper)," Mr Yadav said.
The helicopter is capable of transporting 54 troops at a time and take the Army artillery guns right up to forward post in an assembled state, he said.
"The aircraft's ceiling altitude is 6 km (nearly 20,000 feet), but will depend on factors like temperature, etc," he said.
"Helicopters in India have tail rotor configuration, but it (Chinook which has tandem rotor) requires different kind of input during initial hours of flying," Mr Yadav said.
The Chinook, twin-engine, tandem rotor, is multi-role, vertical-lift platform, which is used for transporting troops, artillery, equipment and fuel.
The all-weather capable aircraft can also be used for humanitarian and disaster relief operations and in missions such as transportation of relief supplies and mass evacuation of refugees.
(With inputs from agencies)