|A U.S. Army CH-47 departs a landing zone in 2014 after unloading soldiers.|
|National origin||United States|
|Manufacturer||Boeing Defense, Space & Security|
|First flight||21 September 1961|
|Primary users||United States Army|
Japan Ground Self-Defense Force
Indian Air Force
See CH-47 operators for others
|Number built||Over 1,200 as of 2012|
|Developed from||Vertol Model 107|
|Variants||Boeing Chinook (UK variants)|
The Boeing CH-47 Chinook is a tandem rotor helicopter developed by American rotorcraft company Vertol and manufactured by Boeing Vertol. The Chinook is a heavy-lift helicopter that is among the heaviest lifting Western helicopters. Its name, Chinook, is from the Native American Chinook people of Oregon and Washington state.
The Chinook was originally designed by Vertol, which had begun work in 1957 on a new tandem-rotor helicopter, designated as the Vertol Model 107 or V-107. Around the same time, the United States Department of the Army announced its intention to replace the piston engine–powered Sikorsky CH-37 Mojave with a new, gas turbine–powered helicopter. During June 1958, the U.S. Army ordered a small number of V-107s from Vertol under the YHC-1A designation; following testing, it came to be considered by some Army officials to be too heavy for the assault missions and too light for transport purposes. While the YHC-1A would be improved and adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps as the CH-46 Sea Knight, the Army sought a heavier transport helicopter, and ordered an enlarged derivative of the V-107 with the Vertol designation Model 114. Initially designated as the YCH-1B, on 21 September 1961, the preproduction rotorcraft performed its maiden flight. In 1962, the HC-1B was redesignated CH-47A under the 1962 United States Tri-Service aircraft designation system.
The Chinook possesses several means of loading various cargoes, including multiple doors across the fuselage, a wide loading ramp located at the rear of the fuselage and a total of three external ventral cargo hooks to carry underslung loads. Capable of a top speed of 170 knots (200 mph; 310 km/h), upon its introduction to service in 1962, the helicopter was considerably faster than contemporary 1960s utility helicopters and attack helicopters, and is still one of the fastest helicopters in the US inventory. Improved and more powerful versions of the Chinook have also been developed since its introduction; one of the most substantial variants to be produced was the CH-47D, which first entered service in 1982; improvements from the CH-47C standard included upgraded engines, composite rotor blades, a redesigned cockpit to reduce workload, improved and redundant electrical systems and avionics, and the adoption of an advanced flight control system. It remains one of the few aircraft to be developed during the early 1960s – along with the fixed-wing Lockheed C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft – that has remained in both production and frontline service for over 50 years.
The military version of the helicopter has been exported to nations across the world; the U.S. Army and the Royal Air Force (see Boeing Chinook (UK variants)) have been its two largest users. The civilian version of the Chinook is the Boeing Vertol 234. It has been used by civil operators not only for passenger and cargo transport, but also for aerial firefighting and to support logging, construction, and oil extraction industries.
During late 1956, the United States Department of the Army announced its intention to replace the Sikorsky CH-37 Mojave, which was powered by piston engines, with a new, gas turbine-powered helicopter. Turbine engines were also a key design feature of the smaller UH-1 "Huey" utility helicopter. Following a design competition, in September 1958, a joint Army–Air Force source selection board recommended that the Army procure the Vertol-built medium transport helicopter. However, funding for full-scale development was not then available, and the Army vacillated on its design requirements. Some officials in Army Aviation thought that the new helicopter should be operated as a light tactical transport aimed at taking over the missions of the old piston-engined Piasecki H-21 and Sikorsky H-34 helicopters, and be consequently capable of carrying about 15 troops (one squad). Another faction in Army Aviation thought that the new helicopter should be much larger, enabling it to airlift large artillery pieces and possess enough internal space to carry the new MGM-31 "Pershing" missile system.
During 1957, Vertol commenced work upon a new tandem-rotor helicopter, designated as the Vertol Model 107 or V-107. During June 1958, the U.S. Army awarded a contract to Vertol for the acquisition of a small number of the rotorcraft, giving it the YHC-1A designation. As ordered, the YHC-1A possessed the capacity to carry a maximum of 20 troops. Three underwent testing by the Army for deriving engineering and operational data. However, the YHC-1A was considered by many figures within the Army users to be too heavy for the assault role, while too light for the more general transport role. Accordingly, a decision was made to procure a heavier transport helicopter, and at the same time, upgrade the UH-1 "Huey" to serve as the needed tactical troop transport. The YHC-1A would be improved and adopted by the Marines as the CH-46 Sea Knight in 1962. As a result, the Army issued a new order to Vertol for an enlarged derivative of the V-107, known by internal company designation as the Model 114, which it gave the designation of HC-1B. On 21 September 1961, the preproduction Boeing Vertol YCH-1B made its initial hovering flight. During 1962, the HC-1B was redesignated the CH-47A under the 1962 United States Tri-Service aircraft designation system; it was also named "Chinook" after the Chinook people of the Pacific Northwest.
The CH-47 is powered by two Lycoming T55 turboshaft engines, mounted on each side of the helicopter's rear pylon and connected to the rotors by drive shafts. Initial models were fitted with engines rated at 2,200 hp (1,600 kW) each. The counter-rotating rotors eliminate the need for an antitorque vertical rotor, allowing all power to be used for lift and thrust. The ability to adjust lift in either rotor makes it less sensitive to changes in the center of gravity, important for the cargo lifting and dropping. While hovering over a specific location, a twin-rotor helicopter has increased stability over a single rotor when weight is added or removed, for example, when troops drop from or begin climbing up ropes to the aircraft, or when other cargo is dropped. If one engine fails, the other can drive both rotors. The "sizing" of the Chinook was directly related to the growth of the Huey and the Army's tacticians' insistence that initial air assaults be built around the squad. The Army pushed for both the Huey and the Chinook, and this focus was responsible for the acceleration of its air mobility effort.
Improved and more powerful versions of the CH-47 have been developed since the helicopter entered service. The U.S. Army's first major design leap was the now-common CH-47D, which entered service in 1982. Improvements from the CH-47C included upgraded engines, composite rotor blades, a redesigned cockpit to reduce pilot workload, improved and redundant electrical systems, an advanced flight control system, and improved avionics. The latest mainstream generation is the CH-47F, which features several major upgrades to reduce maintenance, digitized flight controls, and is powered by two 4,733-horsepower (3,529 kW) Honeywell engines.
A commercial model of the Chinook, the Boeing-Vertol Model 234, is used worldwide for logging, construction, fighting forest fires, and supporting petroleum extraction operations. In December 2006, Columbia Helicopters Inc purchased the type certificate of the Model 234 from Boeing. The Chinook has also been licensed to be built by companies outside the United States, such as Agusta (now AgustaWestland) in Italy and Kawasaki in Japan.
The Army finally settled on the larger Chinook as its standard medium-transport helicopter, and as of February 1966, 161 aircraft had been delivered to the Army. The 1st Cavalry Division had brought its organic Chinook battalion (three Chinook companies) when it arrived in 1965 and a separate aviation medium helicopter company, the 147th, had arrived in Vietnam on 29 November 1965. This latter company was initially placed in direct support of the 1st Infantry Division. CH-47 crews quickly learned to mount an M60 machine gun in each of the forward doors. Sometimes they also installed an M60 or M2 machine gun to fire from the rear cargo door.
The most spectacular mission in Vietnam for the Chinook was the placing of artillery batteries in perilous mountain positions inaccessible by any other means, and then keeping them resupplied with large quantities of ammunition. The 1st Cavalry Division found that its CH-47s were limited to a 7,000-pound (3,200 kg) payload when operating in the mountains, but could carry an additional 1,000 pounds (450 kg) when operating near the coast. The early Chinook design was limited by its rotor system which did not permit full use of the installed power, and users were anxious for an improved version which would upgrade this system.
As with any new piece of equipment, the Chinook presented a major problem of "customer education". Commanders and crew chiefs had to be constantly alert that eager soldiers did not overload the temptingly large cargo compartment. It would be some time before troops would be experts at using sling loads. The Chinook soon proved to be such an invaluable aircraft for artillery movement and heavy logistics that it was seldom used as an assault troop carrier. Some of the Chinook fleet was used for casualty evacuation, and due to the very heavy demand for the helicopters, they were usually overburdened with wounded. Perhaps the most cost effective use of the Chinook was the recovery of other downed aircraft.
At the Vietnam war's peak the US Army had 21 Chinook companies in Vietnam. Pilots discovered the CH-47A's transmission system could not handle the two gas turbines running at full power, and high humidity and heat reduced the maximum lift by more than 20% in the low lands and 30% in mountain areas. More powerful, improved transmission and strengthened fuselages arrived in 1968 with the CH-47B, followed a few months later by the CH-47C. The CH-47s in Vietnam were generally armed with a single 7.62 mm M60 machine gun on a pintle mount on either side of the aircraft for self-defense, with stops fitted to keep the gunners from firing into the rotor blades. Dust filters were also added to improve engine reliability. Of the nearly 750 Chinook helicopters in the U.S. and South Vietnam fleets, about 200 were lost in combat or wartime operational accidents. The U.S. Army CH-47s supported the 1st Australian Task Force as required.
Four CH-47s were converted into ACH-47As by adding armor and improved engines. Its armament included two fixed forward firing 20 mm cannons, one turret with 40 mm automatic grenade launcher on the nose, five .50 in machine guns and two weapon pods on the sides that could carry either 70 mm rocket launchers or 7.62 mm miniguns. They arrived in Vietnam in 1966, and they engaged in six months of operational testing at An Khê Army Airfield. They performed well in combat, but its high maintenance costs and demand for use in troop and cargo transport was stronger. Three ACH-47s were lost. One collided with a CH-47 while taxiing. Another had a retention pin shake loose on a 20 mm cannon and was brought down when its own gun fired through the forward rotor blades. The third was grounded by enemy fire and destroyed by enemy mortar rounds after the crew escaped.
During the 1970s, the United States and Iran had a strong relationship, in which the Iranian armed forces began to use many American military aircraft, most notably the F-14 Tomcat, as part of a modernization program. After an agreement signed between Boeing and Agusta, the Imperial Iranian Air Force purchased 20 Agusta-built CH-47Cs in 1971. The Imperial Iranian Army Aviation purchased 70 CH-47Cs from Agusta between 1972 and 1976. In late 1978, Iran placed an order for an additional 50 helicopters with Elicotteri Meridionali, but that order was canceled immediately after the revolution; 11 of them were delivered after multiple requests by Iran.
In the 1978 Iranian Chinook shootdown, four Iranian CH-47Cs penetrated 15–20 km (9.3–12.4 mi) into Soviet airspace in the Turkmenistan Military District. They were intercepted by a MiG-23M which shot down one, killing eight crew members, and forced a second one to land. Chinook helicopters were used in efforts by the Imperial Iranian loyalist forces to resist the 1979 Iranian revolution.
During the Iran–Iraq War, Iran made heavy use of its US-bought equipment, and lost at least eight CH-47s during the 1980–1988 period, most notably during a clash on 15 July 1983, when an Iraqi Mirage F1 destroyed three Iranian Chinooks transporting troops to the front line, and on 25–26 February 1984, when Iraqi MiG-21 fighters shot down two examples. On 22 March 1982, in Operation Fath ol-Mobin, a key operation of the war, Iranian Chinooks were landed behind Iraqi lines, deployed troops that silenced their artillery, and captured an Iraqi headquarters; the attack took the Iraqi forces by surprise.
Despite the arms embargo in place upon Iran, it has managed to keep its Chinook fleet operational. Some of the Chinooks have been rebuilt by Panha. As of 2015, 20 to 45 Chinooks were operational in Iran.
In 1976, the Libyan Air Force purchased 24 Italian-built CH-47C helicopters, 14 of which were transferred to the Libyan Army during the 1990s. The Libyan Air Force recruited Western pilots and technicians to operate the CH-47 fleet. The Libyan Chinooks flew transport and support missions into Chad to supply Libyan ground forces operating there in the 1980s. Chinooks were occasionally used to transport Libyan special forces in assault missions in northern Chad.
In 2002, Libya sold 16 helicopters to the United Arab Emirates, as due to the Western embargo and lack of funds, maintaining them was difficult. The sale to UAE was a $939 million package that included equipment, parts, and training. How many CH-47s are still in existence or operational during the ongoing Libyan civil wars that started in 2011 is not known.
The Chinook was used both by Argentina and the United Kingdom during the Falklands War in 1982.
The Argentine Air Force and the Argentine Army each deployed two CH-47C helicopters, which were widely used in general transport duties. Of the Army's aircraft, one was destroyed on the ground by 30 mm cannon fire from an RAF GR3 Harrier, while the other was captured by the British and reused after the war. Both Argentine Air Force helicopters were returned to Argentina and remained in service until 2002.
Three British Chinooks were destroyed on 25 May 1982 when Atlantic Conveyor was struck by an Exocet sea-skimming missile fired by an Argentine Super Étendard. The sole surviving British Chinook, Bravo November, did outstanding service in the Falklands, lifting 81 troops on one occasion and is still in service 38 years later.
About 163 CH-47Ds of various operators were deployed to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq during Operation Desert Shield and the subsequent Operation Desert Storm in 1990–91.
The CH-47D has seen wide use in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq. The Chinook is being used in air assault missions, inserting troops into fire bases, and later bringing food, water, and ammunition. It is also the casualty evacuation aircraft of choice in the British Armed Forces. In combat theaters, it is typically escorted by attack helicopters such as the AH-64 Apache for protection. Its lift capacity has been found of particular value in the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan, where high altitudes and temperatures limit the use of helicopters such as the UH-60 Black Hawk; reportedly, one Chinook can replace up to five UH-60s in the air assault transport role.
The Chinook helicopters of several nations have participated in the Afghanistan War, including aircraft from Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Canada, and Australia. Despite the age of the Chinook, it is still in heavy demand, in part due its proven versatility and ability to operate in demanding environments such as Afghanistan.
In May 2011, an Australian Army CH-47D crashed during a resupply mission in Zabul Province, resulting in one fatality and five survivors. The helicopter was unable to be recovered and was destroyed in place. To compensate for the loss, the ADF added two ex-U.S. Army CH-47Ds to the fleet which are expected to be in service until the introduction of the CH-47Fs in 2016.
On 6 August 2011, a Chinook crashed near Kabul, killing all of the 38 aboard. The Chinook was reportedly shot down with a rocket-propelled grenade by the Taliban while attempting to assist a group of U.S. Army Rangers. The 38 were members of NATO and allied forces, including 22 Naval Special Warfare operators, five U.S. Army Aviation soldiers, three U.S. Air Force special operations personnel, and seven Afghan National Army commandos. A civilian translator and a U.S. military working dog were also killed in the crash. The crash was the single deadliest during the entire Operation Enduring Freedom campaign. The previous biggest single-day loss for American forces in Afghanistan involved a Chinook that was shot down near Kabul in Kunar Province in June 2005 with all aboard killed, including a 16-member U.S. Special Operations team.
According to Suresh Abraham, the Chinook's ability to carry large, underslung loads has been of significant value in relief operations in the aftermath of natural disasters. Numerous operators have chosen to deploy their Chinook fleets to support humanitarian efforts in stricken nations overseas. Following the 2004 Asian tsunami, the Republic of Singapore Air Force assisted in the relief operations in neighboring Indonesia using its Chinooks; similarly, after the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, the Royal Air Force dispatched several Chinooks to Northern Pakistan to assist in recovery efforts.
In August 1992, six CH-47Ds were deployed from Fort Bragg in North Carolina to provide relief in the wake of Hurricane Andrew in what was one of the first major helicopter disaster relief operations on US soil. Then President George H. W. Bush ordered the military to assist. The Chinooks arrived at Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport, just outside of the disaster zone, one day after the President's order; early on, they performed a wide loop over Homestead and Florida City to publicly display their presence, helping to curtail lawlessness and looting. The Chinooks initially flew twelve sorties per day out of Opa Locka, which expanded over time, often supporting distribution operations at Homestead AFB and Opa Locka, as well as delivering relief payloads via internal storage, not using sling loads, supplementing the two dozen distribution centers and trucks, proving essential as trucks could not reach the worst hit areas due to downed trees and power lines. They flew everyday for approximately three weeks, moving supplies and personnel around the disaster zone as well as carrying media and government officials, including then Congressman Bill Nelson. Ultimately, the Chinooks supplied 64 distribution sites throughout the zone and transported 1.2 million pounds of supplies before the urgent relief phase ended.
Three of Japan's CH-47s were used to cool Reactors 3 and 4 of the Fukushima Nuclear power plant following the 9.0 earthquake in 2011; they were used to collect sea water from the nearby ocean and drop it over the affected areas. In order to protect the crew from the heightened radiation levels present, a number of lead plates were attached to the floor of each Chinook; even with such measures, pilots had to keep their distance from the reactors while also limiting flight times in the vicinity to a maximum of 45 minutes to avoid excessive radiation exposure.
Since the type's inception, the Chinook has carried out various secondary missions, including medical evacuation, disaster relief, search and rescue, aircraft recovery, fire fighting, and heavy construction assistance.
In February 2007, the Royal Netherlands Air Force became the first international customer of the CH-47F model, expanding their Chinook fleet to 17. On 10 August 2009, Canada signed a contract for 15 extensively modified and upgraded CH-47Fs for the Canadian Forces, later delivered in 2013–2014 with the Canadian designation CH-147F. On 15 December 2009, Britain announced its Future Helicopter Strategy, including the purchase of 24 new CH-47Fs to be delivered from 2012. Australia ordered seven CH-47Fs in March 2010 to replace its six CH-47Ds between 2014 and 2017. In September 2015, India approved purchase of 15 CH-47F Chinooks. On 7 November 2016, Singapore announced that the CH-47F would replace its older Chinooks, which had been in service since 1994, enabling the Republic of Singapore Air Force to meet its requirements for various operations, including Search and Rescue (SAR), Aeromedical Evacuation (AME), and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations.
In February 2020, the Indian Air Force started using Chinooks at theatres such as Ladakh and Siachen Glacier to assist Indian forces deployed at the Indian borders with China and Pakistan.
The pre-1962 designation for Model 114 development aircraft that would be redesignated CH-47 Chinook.
The all-weather, medium-lift CH-47A Chinook was powered initially by Lycoming T55-L-5 engines rated at 2,200 horsepower (1,640 kW), but then replaced by the T55-L-7 rated at 2,650 hp (1,980 kW) engines or T55-L-7C engines rated at 2,850 hp (2,130 kW). The CH-47A had a maximum gross weight of 33,000 lb (15,000 kg), allowing for a maximum payload around 10,000 lb (4,500 kg) Initial delivery of the CH-47A Chinook to the U.S. Army was in August 1962. A total of 354 were built.
The ACH-47A was originally known as the Armed/Armored CH-47A (or A/ACH-47A). It was officially designated ACH-47A as a U.S. Army Attack Cargo Helicopter, and unofficially referred to as Guns A Go-Go. Four CH-47A helicopters were converted to gunships by Boeing Vertol in late 1965. Three were assigned to the 53rd Aviation Detachment in South Vietnam for testing, with the remaining one retained in the U.S. for weapons testing. By 1966, the 53rd was redesignated the 1st Aviation Detachment (Provisional) and attached to the 228th Assault Support Helicopter Battalion of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). By 1968, only one gunship remained, and logistical concerns prevented more conversions. It was returned to the United States, and the program stopped.
The ACH-47A carried five M60D 7.62 × 51 mm machine guns or M2HB .50-caliber machine guns, provided by the XM32 and XM33 armament subsystems, two M24A1 20 mm cannons, two XM159B/XM159C 19-Tube 2.75-inch (70 mm) rocket launchers or sometimes two M18/M18A1 7.62 × 51 mm gun pods, and a single M75 40 mm grenade launcher in the XM5/M5 armament subsystem (more commonly seen on the UH-1 series of helicopters). Rare newsreel footage shows one of the aircraft in action supporting the 8th Cavalry Regiment during an ambush at Bông Son, South Vietnam. The surviving aircraft, Easy Money, has been restored and is on display at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.[verification needed]
The CH-47B was an interim solution while Boeing worked on a more substantially improved CH-47C. The CH-47B was powered by two Lycoming T55-L-7C 2,850 hp (2,130 kW) engines. It featured a blunted rear rotor pylon, redesigned asymmetrical rotor blades, and strakes along the rear ramp and fuselage to improve flying characteristics. It could be equipped with two door-mounted M60D 7.62 mm NATO machine guns on the M24 armament subsystem and a ramp-mounted M60D using the M41 armament subsystem. Some CH-47 "bombers" were equipped to drop tear gas or napalm from the rear cargo ramp onto Viet Cong bunkers. The CH-47B could be equipped with a hoist and cargo hook. The Chinook proved especially valuable in "Pipe Smoke" aircraft recovery missions. The "Hook" recovered about 12,000 aircraft valued at over $3.6 billion during the war; 108 were built.
The CH-47C principally featured more powerful engines and transmissions. Three sub-versions were built; the first had Lycoming T55-L-7C engines delivering 2,850 shp (2,130 kW). The "Super C" included Lycoming T55-L-11 engines delivering 3,750 shp (2,800 kW), an upgraded maximum gross weight of 46,000 lb (21,000 kg), and a pitch stability augmentation system. The T55-L-11 engines suffered difficulties, as they had been hurriedly introduced to increase payload; thus, they were temporarily replaced by the more reliable Lycoming T55-L-7C. The type was distinguishable from the standard "C" by the uprated maximum gross weight.
The type was unable to receive FAA certification to engage in civil activities due to the nonredundant hydraulic flight boost system drive. A redesign of the hydraulic boost system drive was incorporated in the succeeding CH-47D, allowing that model to achieve certification as the Boeing Model 234. A total of 233 CH-47Cs were built. Canada bought a total of eight CH-47Cs; deliveries of the type began in 1974. Receiving the Canadian designation "CH-147", these were fitted with a power hoist above the crew door; other changes included a flight engineer station in the rear cabin: operators referred to the configuration as the "Super C". The CH-47C was used widely during the Vietnam War, eventually replacing the older H-21 Shawnee in the combat assault support role.
The CH-47D shares the same airframe as earlier models, the main difference being the adoption of more powerful engines. Early CH-47Ds were originally powered by two T55-L-712 engines, the most common engine is the later T55-GA-714A. With its triple-hook cargo system, the CH-47D can carry heavy payloads internally and up to 26,000 lb (12,000 kg) (such as 40-foot or 12-metre containers) externally. It was first introduced into service in 1979. In air assault operations, it often serves as the principal mover of the 155 mm M198 howitzer, accompanying 30 rounds of ammunition, and an 11-man crew. The CH-47D also has advanced avionics, such as the Global Positioning System. Nearly all US Army CH-47D were conversions from previous A, B, and C models, a total of 472 being converted. The last U.S. Army CH-47D built was delivered to the U.S. Army Reserve, located at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2002.
The Netherlands acquired all seven of the Canadian Forces' surviving CH-147Cs and upgraded them to CH-47D standard. Six more new-build CH-47Ds were delivered in 1995 for a total of 13. The Dutch CH-47Ds feature a number of improvements over U.S. Army CH-47Ds, including a long nose for Bendix weather radar, a "glass cockpit", and improved T55-L-714 engines. As of 2011, the Netherlands shall upgrade 11 of these which will be updated to the CH-47F standard at a later date. As of 2011, Singapore has 18 CH-47D/SDs, which includes twelve "Super D" Chinooks, in service. In 2008, Canada purchased 6 CH-47Ds from the U.S. for the Canadian Helicopter Force Afghanistan for $252 million. With 1 CH-47D lost to an accident, the remaining five were sold in 2011 after the end of Canada's mission in Afghanistan and replaced with seven CH-147Fs.
The MH-47D variant was developed for special forces operations and has inflight refueling capability, a fast rope-rappelling system, and other upgrades. The MH-47D was used by U.S. Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. 12 MH-47D helicopters were produced. Six were conversions from CH-47A models and six were conversions from CH-47C models.
The MH-47E has been used by U.S. Army Special Operations. Beginning with the E-model prototype manufactured in 1991, a total of 26 Special Operations Aircraft were produced. All aircraft were assigned to 2–160th SOAR(A) "Nightstalkers", home based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. E models were conversions from existing CH-47C model airframes. The MH-47E has similar capabilities as the MH-47D, but includes an increased fuel capacity similar to the CH-47SD and terrain following/terrain avoidance radar.
In 1995, the Royal Air Force ordered eight Chinook HC3s, effectively a low-cost version of the MH-47E for the special operations role. They were delivered in 2001, but never entered operational service due to technical issues with their avionics fit, unique to the HC3. In 2008, work started to revert the HC3s to HC2 standard, to enable them to enter service. They have since been upgraded to HC5 standard with a digital automated flight control system.
In 2001, the first CH-47F, an upgraded CH-47D, made its maiden flight; the first production model rolled out on 15 June 2006 at Boeing's facility in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, and first flew on 23 October 2006. Upgrades include 4,868-shaft-horsepower (3,630 kW) Honeywell engines and the airframe featuring greater single-piece construction to lower maintenance requirements. The milled construction reduces vibration, as well as inspection and repair needs, and eliminates flexing points to increase service life. The CH-47F can fly at speeds of over 175 mph (282 km/h) with a payload of more than 21,000 lb (9,500 kg). New avionics include a Rockwell Collins Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) cockpit, and BAE Systems' Digital Advanced Flight Control System (DAFCS). AgustaWestland assembles the CH-47F under license, known as the Chinook ICH-47F, for several customers. Boeing delivered 48 CH-47Fs to the U.S. Army through August 2008; at that time Boeing announced a $4.8 billion contract with the Army for 191 Chinooks.
A CH-47F Block 2 is planned to be introduced after 2020. The Block 2 aims for a payload of 22,000 lb (10,000 kg) with 4,000 ft (1,200 m) and 95 °F (35 °C) high and hot hover performance, eventually increased up to 6,000 ft (1,800 m), to carry the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle; maximum takeoff weight would be raised to 54,000 lb (24,500 kg). It features the composite-based Advanced Chinook Rotor Blade (derived from the cancelled RAH-66 Comanche), 20% more powerful Honeywell T55-715 engines, and the active parallel actuator system (APAS); the APAS enhances the digital advanced flight-control system, providing an exact torque split between the rotors for greater efficiency. A new fuel system combines the three fuel cells in each sponson into one larger fuel cell and eliminating intracell fuel transfer hardware, reducing weight by 90 kg (200 lb) and increasing fuel capacity. Electrical capacity is increased by three 60 kVA generators. Part of the Block II upgrade was the Advanced Chinook Rotor Blades (ACRB), intended to improve lift performance in hot/high altitude conditions by 2,000 lb, after initially being trialed in 2020 ACRB testing was postponed by the US Army due to vibration issues. Boeing denied the Army's assertion that the vibration issues were a safety risk and believed it could be solved with dampeners. Testing resumed in 2021 but the Army ultimately decided against implementing the upgrade as the vibration issues persisted in the resumed testing, in addition the aft rotor blade was stalling when in a swept back position.
The U.S. Army plans for a Block 3 upgrade after 2025, which could include a new 6,000 hp (4,500 kW) class engine with boosted power capacity of the transmission and drive train developed under the future affordable turbine engine (FATE) program and a lengthened fuselage. The Future Vertical Lift program plans to begin replacing the Army's rotorcraft fleet in the mid-2030s, initially focusing on medium-lift helicopters, thus the CH-47 is planned to be in service beyond 2060, over 100 years after first entering service.
The MH-47G Special Operations Aviation (SOA) version is currently being delivered to the U.S. Army. It is similar to the MH-47E, but features more sophisticated avionics including a digital Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS). The CAAS is a common glass cockpit used by different helicopters such as MH-60K/Ls, CH-53E/Ks, and ARH-70As. The MH-47G also incorporates all of the new sections of the CH-47F.
The new modernization program improves MH-47D and MH-47E Special Operations Chinooks to the MH-47G design specs. A total of 25 MH-47E and 11 MH-47D aircraft were upgraded by the end of 2003. In 2002, the army announced plans to expand the Special Operations Aviation Regiment via an additional 12 MH-47G helicopters. The final MH-47G Chinook was delivered to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command on 10 February 2011. Modernization of MH-47D/E Chinooks to MH-47G standard is due for completion in 2015.
On the 1st September 2020, Boeing announced that their Philadelphia plant had delivered the first example of the MH-47G Block II helicopter to U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), saying that the delivery was made "recently", and was "on time". This is the first MH-47G Block II from an initial order of 24, with a stated ultimate requirement for 69. The MH-47G Block II includes all of the improvements from the CH-47F Block II, as well as inflight refueling capability, a comprehensive defensive aids suite and low-level/adverse weather piloting aids, such as forward-looking infrared and multi-mode/terrain-following radar. It is armed with two 7.62 mm M134 Miniguns and two M240 7.62 mm machine guns.
The British MOD confirmed that while the U.S. does not currently export the model, the two countries are currently in discussion regarding the MH-47G. On 19 October 2018, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible sale of 16 H-47 Chinooks (Extended Range) to the UK.
The CH-47J is a medium-transport helicopter for the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF), and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF). The differences between the CH-47J and the CH-47D are the engine, rotor brake and avionics, for use for general transportation, SAR and disaster activity like U.S. forces. The CH-47JA, introduced in 1993, is a long-range version of the CH-47J, fitted with an enlarged fuel tank, an AAQ-16 FLIR in a turret under the nose, and a partial glass cockpit. Both versions are built under license in Japan by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, who produced 61 aircraft by April 2001.
The Japan Defense Agency ordered 54 aircraft of which 39 were for the JGSDF and 15 were for the JASDF. Boeing supplied flyable aircraft, to which Kawasaki added full avionics, interior, and final paint. The CH-47J model Chinook (N7425H) made its first flight in January 1986, and it was sent to Kawasaki in April. Boeing began delivering five CH-47J kits in September 1985 for assembly at Kawasaki.
On 9 November 2006, the HH-47, a new variant of the Chinook based on the MH-47G, was selected by the U.S. Air Force as the winner of the Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR-X) competition. Four development HH-47s were to be built, with the first of 141 production aircraft planned to enter service in 2012. However, in February 2007 the contract award was protested and the GAO ordered the CSAR-X project to be re-bid. The CSAR-X program was again terminated in 2009. In February 2010, the USAF announced plans to replace aging HH-60G helicopters, and deferred secondary combat search and rescue requirements calling for a larger helicopter.
For years U.S. Navy has been operating different versions of the single-rotor CH-53 helicopter as its heavy-lift helicopter. CH-47s regularly conduct ship-based operations for U.S. Special Forces and other international operators. Due to budget issues, technical problems and delays with CH-53K, the director of the Pentagon's cost assessment office directed US Navy to consider maritime versions of CH-47. Naval versions must be protected against the corrosive seaborne environment and be able to operate from aircraft carriers and amphibious ships.
In 1969, work on the experimental Model 347 was begun. It was a CH-47A with a lengthened fuselage, four-blade rotors, detachable wings mounted on top of the fuselage and other changes. It first flew on 27 May 1970 and was evaluated for a few years.
In 1973, the Army contracted with Boeing to design a "Heavy Lift Helicopter" (HLH), designated XCH-62A. It appeared to be a scaled-up CH-47 without a conventional body, in a configuration similar to the S-64 Skycrane (CH-54 Tarhe), but the project was canceled in 1975. The program was restarted for test flights in the 1980s and was again not funded by Congress. The scaled-up model of the HLH was scrapped in late 2005 at Fort Rucker, Alabama.
See also: Boeing Chinook (UK variants)
Data from Boeing CH-47D/F, Army Chinook file, International Directory
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era
((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Boeing News Release