As Chinooks fly in, Mi-26 overhaul yet to take off

CHANDIGARH:While the Indian Air Force is in the final stages of formally inducting the newly acquired US-made Chinook heavy-lift helicopter, its plans for overhaul and life extension of the Russian Mi-26 that has been forming its vertical heavy-lift component since 1985, is hanging fire.

As Chinooks fly in, Mi-26 overhaul yet to take off

IAF MI-26 helicopter

shalender@tribune.com

Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, March 11

While the Indian Air Force is in the final stages of formally inducting the newly acquired US-made Chinook heavy-lift helicopter, its plans for overhaul and life extension of the Russian Mi-26 that has been forming its vertical heavy-lift component since 1985, is hanging fire.

Though the IAF set into motion the process to give a fresh lease of life to these grounded flying machines about three years ago, the plans are yet to be finalised with the files concerned doing the rounds of the bureaucratic channels, IAF sources said.

The helicopters would require to be shipped to Russia for the purpose and the financial implication of the project is also an issue in times of declining budgetary allocations.

Chinooks, the first four of which have arrived in India, would be shortly inducted into the Chandigarh-based 126 Helicopter Flight, also known as Featherweights, that has been operating the Mi-26. The Mi-26 would remain in service alongside the Chinooks and are not expected to be de-commissioned anytime soon. The IAF had contracted US aerospace major Boeing for 15 CH-47F Chinooks. 

The IAF at present has three Mi-26, the world’s largest helicopter that has a payload capacity of 20 tonnes, which is double that of the Chinook. The fourth helicopter crashed near Jammu in 2010. The Total Technical Life (TTL) of two of these machines expired in September 2013 and August 2014 and have been non-operational. The third helicopter is also at the fag end of its TTL.

Two non-operational, one at its fag end

At present, the IAF has three Mi-26 — two non-operational as their Total Technical Life has expired and the last one is at its fag end. The fourth helicopter crashed near Jammu in 2010

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