The US military said it had grounded its fleet of around 400 Chinook cargo helicopters after fuel leaks caused a “small number” of engine fires. Reports say the extreme measure was taken out of an abundance of caution.
Army spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said the Army has identified the cause of the leaks and is working to fix the problem. Smith said some aircraft may not need the fix, so they could resume flying soon.
The fleet was grounded last weekend. Smith said there were no injuries or deaths associated with the fires, but the military temporarily grounded the fleet out of an abundance of caution.
The Chinook is the Army’s primary heavy-lift helicopter, used to transport troops and equipment, and was a familiar sight during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Used for 60 years worldwide
Chinooks are used by the US military and the armed forces of over 19 countries around the world, including India, many of which have operated Chinooks for several decades.
It was originally deployed during the Vietnam War and has been in use for over 60 years. Although designed to carry around 36 passengers, a Chinook is said to have carried 147 refugees in a single elevator during the final days of the Vietnam War. Since then, the aircraft has undergone a series of upgrades to increase lift and lethality in combat environments.
It is considered the fastest military helicopter in the world with a top speed of 315 kilometers per hour. It has been deployed by the United States in many countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and others. The United States and the United Kingdom remain the main operators.
India has 15 Chinooks
India has about 15 CH-47 Chinook helicopters. In recent years, they have become one of the main military tools for air transport operations in places like the Ladakh and Siachen glaciers to help Indian forces deployed in these regions.
India received the first batch of Chinook helicopters in February 2019. Boeing completed the delivery of 15 Chinook helicopters to the Indian Air Force in 2020. Officials told the Wall Street Journal that the US military was aware of a small number of engine fires in helicopters, and the incidents resulted in no injuries or fatalities.
India seeks reasons in US
India on Wednesday demanded details of the reasons behind the grounding of the entire helicopter fleet due to the risk of engine fire.
In India, these helicopters have become one of the main military tools for operations in difficult terrain, including the glaciers of Ladakh and Siachen, and to help Indian forces deployed in these regions.
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