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U.S. forces buy nine CH-47G Block II Chinook helicopters in the Special Operation Forces (SOF) configuration for $ 265 million. Originally, the US Army also wanted to procure 473 CH-47F Block II helicopters, but the Army decided in its budget application for the budget year 2020 not to buy them and only use the latest variant for special operations. Instead of the CH-47, the US Army would rather invest the funds in two other helicopter projects. Headwind in this project comes from the US Congress, which has not approved this planning and prefers to stick to the procurement of the CH-47.

The manufacturer Boeing now has a total of three contracts for the construction of 24 new MH-47G SOFs. This number is expected to increase to 69 pieces. The first machines are scheduled to run from 2023.


CH-47 block II

Block II is a product improvement of the CH-47. This should include new rotor blades, improved transmissions, non-segmented tanks as well as an increase in the payload (approx. 1.8 t) and range. The first flight of the CH-47 Chinook Block II with the new Advanced Chinook Rotor Blade (ACRB) took place in January, according to Boeing. The first flight of the CH-47 Block II was carried out in March 2019 - at that time with the standard rotor blades. After the latest test, it was only known that the new rotor blades give the helicopter an additional lift of 771 kg. The original plan was 680 kg (at 4,000 feet and 35 ° C in hover).

In addition to the new rotor blades with a new asymmetrical wing profile, Block II contains a new drive system to cope with the higher torques. New features include a single-segment fuel tank on each side (previously three tanks), electrical system improvements and improvements to the airframe, for example, to make the aircraft lighter.

The Chinook is one of two candidates in Germany for the procurement of the heavy transport helicopter (STH). Boeing had announced that all machines planned for Germany would include the Block II shares available until then. Germany wants to procure a multi-function helicopter that can also be used for SOF missions, Combat Search and Rescue (C-SAR) and other tasks in addition to transport tasks. Germany plans to procure up to 60 machines.


SOF Chinook

In many nations, the Boeing CH-47 Chinook is the workhorse and backbone to bring the special forces into operational areas. Worldwide, more than 1,500 CH-47s fly in over 20 countries. These include the USA, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Greece, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Thailand, Turkey, India and Egypt.

The CH-47 Chinook machines for special forces are better equipped than the standard. They include, for example, improved self-protection systems (e.g. Electronic Warfare Self Protection), additional radio devices including satellite communication and secure real-time video transmission, light adaptive ballistic protection, larger tanks for increased range, air refueling options and multi-mode radars. CH-47 deployed to combat zones in the United States will be equipped with the Advanced Threat InfraRed Counter Measures (ATIRCM) system. ATIRCM locates approaching guided missiles using infrared sensors and disrupts the targeting system of the enemy missiles with a laser beam. Chaff and infrared decoys are part of the standard self-protection equipment. The special version of the F variant is called MH-47G in the USA.

blankIn addition, there are equipment such as a covered exhaust area to minimize the infrared signature of the engines, special avionics to support deep or night flight, SIRFC aircraft survival equipment, a floor hatch with abseiling device (fast roping), a winch at the front Door, a Forward and Rear Air Transportability Kit and much more. Thanks to the tandem rotor, the CH-47 can practically "lie" in the water up to half the cabin height in order to accommodate inflatable boats.

Many helicopters for special forces also have equipment such as Directed Infrared Counter Measures (DIRCM), Radar Warning Receiver (RWR), MAWS (Missile Warning System - UV based) or acoustic detectors for shelling. In addition, there are intelligent sensors such as Piloting FLIR and / or EO / IR, Laser Obstacle Avoidance (as in HH101) or armament - especially Dillon Aero M134 and MGs from 7.62 mm to .50 mm.

The version offered as part of the heavy transport helicopter project has a range of more than 1,000 km and a maximum altitude of 6,100 meters. It is equipped with an air refueling system and largely corresponds to the Canadian CH-147F variant.


KSK favors Chinook

From the Bundeswehr Special Forces Command (KSK), the CH-47 Chinook is favored as the successor to the CH-53G. The criticism of the competition model: The three engines are so strong that fast roping is not possible. The downwash is too big. A landing in the small typical Afghan villages would also be impossible, because after the landing none of the country-typical mud huts would be standing. The experience of German special forces during exercises and missions with the CH-47 Chinook by allies certainly plays a role here.

For the sake of completeness, it must be said that the Sikorsky CH-53K is also equipped with the hardware for fast roping. It is expected that the CH-53K will also be certified for this by the US Marine Corps in the future as part of the test program. Sikorsky assumes that the Fast Rope operation will be very similar, if not identical to that of the CH-53E and that there will be no restrictions. In contrast to older helicopters (CH-53G), where the fast-rope functionality has to be set up as a mission-dependent kit (fast-rope frame / fast-rope frame / etc.), The attachment points for this system are and this procedure is already integrated in the airframe of the CH-53K. There are a total of three attachment points - two on the rear ramp, one on the front door, and a fourth can be installed above the central hatch in the cargo hold if required.

André Forkert