Tag Archives: Chinook

“German Air Force likely flies Chinooks in 2020”

The German Air Force will be operating the Boeing “CH-47GE” Chinook from 2020 and onward, as a replacement of its current Sikorsky CH-53G heavy-lift helicopter. Although no official plans have been announced yet, it is a likely scenario looking at the options the military decision makers in Berlin will have to weigh.

While Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin are currently putting the new CH-53K King Stallion through its testing face, the chances of this newer 33 ton rotary wing winning the replacement order for Germany’s current G-versions are getting slimmer. Berlin might very well go for the “CH-47GE” (German Edition) of the Boeing Chinook for three very good reasons.

Supporting the German-Dutch Army Corps, a Royal Netherlands Air Force CH-47F Chinook (Image  © Marcel Burger)
Supporting the German-Dutch Army Corps, a Royal Netherlands Air Force CH-47F Chinook (Image © Marcel Burger)

With NATO allies

First, with 40 to 50 million a piece, the most modern Chinook will costs about half of the CH-53K, which has a base price tag of 93 million. Second Boeing is working hard to increase both lift and range of its CH-47 model. Third the interoperability with important NATO allies will improve big time, making even joint maintenance and further cost reduction possible. For example, the US Army’s 12th Combat Aviation Brigade in Germany flies the Chinook, as well as the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s support to 1 German Dutch Army Corps of 30,000 troops.

Boeing CH-47 Chinooks of the US Army's 12th Combat Aviation Regiment preparing for Afghanistan in Germany, March 2014 (Image © Staff Sgt. Caleb Barrieau / USARE)
Boeing CH-47 Chinooks of the US Army’s 12th Combat Aviation Regiment preparing for Afghanistan in Germany, March 2014 (Image © Staff Sgt. Caleb Barrieau / USARE)

The new Chinook

Boeing plans to start testing its newest rotor blade later this year in Mesa, Arizona. Equipped with new honeycomb rotor blades, more powerful engines and other smart solutions like a new digital advanced flight-control system Boeing hopes to increase the maximum take-off weight of its most current CH-47F so the useful load will be almost 30,000 lb (13,600 kilograms). That’s 8,000 lb (3,600 kg) more than the projected Block 2 upgrade for the US Army. It puts the new Chinook on the map as air lifter for almost all smaller German Army equipment, all the way up to the Mowag Eagle IV and V wheeled vehicles of which the Bundeswehr has orderd 670.

First RCAF Chinook CH-147F arrives at Ottawa (Image © Ken Allan / RCAF)
First RCAF Chinook CH-147F arrives at Ottawa (Image © Ken Allan / RCAF)

Royal Canadian Air Force Extended Range

As for distance, the Royal Canadian Air Force already has good experiences with Extend Range fuel tanks on its 15 CH-147F Chinooks flying with 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron out of Petawawa, Ontario. The choppers are able to operate on distances up to 595 nautical miles (1,100 km) from home before refueling is needed. The CH-53K can fly up to 460 nautical miles (852 km) without reserves, but the Sikorsky’s combat range is 90 nautical miles (almost 170 km) less than that of the base-model CH-47F.


Check our visit to the
CH-53GA upgrade facilities in Donauwörth, Germany

(Image © Dennis Spronk)
(Image © Dennis Spronk)


Current CH-53GA

Whatever the outcome of the debate to replace the current heavy-lift chopper of the German Armed Forces, the Boeing “CH-47GE” currently has the best cards on the table. Until the new rotary wing will arrive, the Luftwaffe will soldier on with its 40 recently modernized CH-53GA and its remaining 26 CH-53s of the older G/GS standard making up a fleet of 66 impressive machines.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com senior contributor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): A Royal Netherlands Air Force CH-47 near the city of Arnhem, in 2014 (Image © Dennis Spronk)

The current German rotary air lift at full speed: a CH-53 lifting essential needs into a combat zone (Image  © Marcel Burger)
The current German rotary air lift at full speed: a CH-53 lifting essential needs into a combat zone (Image © Marcel Burger)

RAF Chinooks heading home after 13 years

The Royal Air Force Chinook medium-size helicopter fleet has began wrapping up its operations in Afghanistan, after 13 years of continuous support to British and other military forces fighting the Taliban and terrorist groups in the Asian country.

The “Wokka Wokkas” were stationed at the military section of Kabul International Airport lately. The first Chinook left for home – RAF Odiham – on board a RAF Boeing C-17A Globemaster III on 25 April 2014. According to a RAF news release the Chinook force has flown over 41,000 hours in Afghanistan skies and extracted 13,000 casualties from the battlefield. First as part of Operation Herrick – the British part of the Allied ops since 2002 – and as part of Operation Toral since last year.

RAF Puma 2 crews and choppers from RAF Benson have taken over the Chinooks role on 1 April 2015, and will continue to fly in support of the mainly NATO forces that help train and support the Afghan National Army “until the mission is complete”, according to the RAF.

Falklands
For the Chinooks, a new operations base is literately on the other side of the horizon. The UK Ministry of Defence has decided to base two of the choppers at RAF Mount Pleasant, to beef up the defences on the Falkland Islands / Islas Malvinas after Argentina has been trying lately to be able to reach the British controlled islands again, including influencing this fun story about the possibility of buying Russian-made bombers.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A RAF Chinook HC2 (Image (PB) Adrian Pingstone)

US approval for 17 more Dutch Chinooks

The US State Department has approved a possible sale of 17 Boeing CH-47F Chinooks plus associated equipment and training to the Netherlands, as announced on Monday 23 March. Costs are estimated to be just over 1 billion USD. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has notified US Congress of this Foreign Military Sale (FMS).

The Netherlands requested a possible sale of 17 CH-47F heavy transport helos on top of 17 Chinooks already in use with the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF). The sale also includes 46 T55-GA-714A engines (34 installed and 12 spares), additional Global Positioning Systems, radio and Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) transponders, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, plus personnel training.

According to the DSCA, the proposed sale of CH-47F aircraft will improve the Dutch capability to meet current and future requirements for troop movement, medical evacuation, parachute drop, search and rescue, disaster relief and fire-fighting.

Mid-nineties
The RNLAF has been a Chinook user since the mid-nineties, when the first of a number of CH-47Ds arrived. These D-models involved both seven former Canadian aircraft, plus six new built helicopters. Two were lost in accidents, leaving 11 D-models in service.

More recently, the Dutch also took delivery of six new built CH-47F models, four of which remain in the US for training purposes. The rest of the Dutch Chinooks find their home at Gilze Rijen airbase in the Netherlands, the RNLAF helicopter hub.

Retired
The purchase of 17 more Chinooks would mean a significantly enlargement of the RNLAF helicopter fleet, which apart from Chinooks consists of Boeing AH-64D Apache attack helicopers and Airbus Helicopters (Eurocopter) AS532 Cougar helos. A small number of Alouette III light transport choppers is due to be retired soon.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: More is always better than one, as is the case with these Dutch CH-47F Chinooks. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Dutch chopper pilots go ‘live’

As announced in this feature article at Airheadsfly.com, Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) helicopter pilots got to press certain buttons for real last week in Germany. As part of the Helicopter Weapons Instructor Course (HWIC), they were involved in a live firing exercise.

Four AH-64D Apache pilots, three CH-47D Chinook and one AS532 Cougar pilot took part in the exercise, as well as two Chinook loadmasters. During HWIC, the crews are trained to become instructors in tactical operations themselves. HWIC is a joint exercise with army forces.

The live firing exercise in Germany will run for one more week. HWIC comes at a time when Dutch helicopter forces are also busy abroad. Apache and Chinooks are currently operating in Mali as part of a United Nations mission over there.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest


Footage © Ministerie van Defensie

Bergen Hone, 20 november 2014Foto's: HWIC 2014
(Image © Joyce Rutjes MCD)
Bergen Hone, 20 november 2014 Foto's: HWIC 2014
(Image © Joyce Rutjes MCD)
Bergen Hone, 20 november 2014Foto's: HWIC 2014
(Image © Joyce Rutjes MCD)
Bergen Hone, 20 november 2014Foto's: HWIC 2014
(Image © Joyce Rutjes MCD)
Bergen Hone, 20 november 2014Foto's: HWIC 2014
(Image © Joyce Rutjes MCD)

HWIC: Instruct the instructors

A Dutch AH-64D Apache at the shooting range of the Luneburger Heide in Germany in November 2006 (Image © Ministerie van Defensie)
It’s time to show their stuff for this Boeing Apache crew.  (Image © Ministerie van Defensie)

They know it should be there. They have been told. They’re ready, and they know the others are too. As they get closer, their eyes narrow and their heart beats increase while the speed of their Boeing AH-64D Apache attack helicopter decreases. The others rely on them. An then, for several hundred feet in the grey autumn air, they spot what they’re looking for: a rebel camp, hidden. Time to do what they were instructed. Time to show what the Dutch Helicopter Weapons Instructor Course (HWIC) is all about.

If anything, Helicopter Weapons Instructor Course is about instructing future instructors, as they fly AH-64D attack helicopters, CH-47D Chinook and AS532 Cougar transport helicopters in close to real life combat theatres, although for now those theatres are situated in an otherwise quiet heathlands near Ede, the Netherlands. With various Dutch military missions going on all over the place, such as in Mali, the Middle East and Poland, the best preparation for air crew is needed. This quiet heath is where Defensie Helikopter Commando (DHC) helicopter pilots and loadmasters are being instructed to become weapon instructors. In the future, they will instruct their peers.

The HWIC is about cooperation between the helicopter crew member, as this is essential to survive complex operations (Image © Dennis Spronk)
HWIC is about weapons. No wonder there’s a gun sticking out the door here. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

As they position their 35 million Euro attack helicopter, the Apache crew observes movements in the rebel camp and relay these observations to the others: colleagues, flying CH-47Ds and AS532s helicopters – with machine guns sticking out the doors – just minutes away. These helicopters, packed with troops, fly at tree top level. The mission is to drop off the troops near the rebel camp under the watchful eye of the Apache. It’s 30mm canon and Hellfire anti-tank missiles provide safety.

The trees make way for the heath, and there’s the rebel camp. The transport helicopters immediately land and unload their human cargo, while the Apache has been flying pattern some distance away, creating a distraction for the 18-strong rebel forces. As the Chinooks and Cougars hastily depart and disappear, gun fire errupts. Time to see if lessons are learned.

After securing the area, this CH-47D Chinook is able to approach (Image © Dennis Spronk)
After securing the area, this CH-47D Chinook is able to approach (Image © Dennis Spronk)
See the frog in this Chinook? (Image © Dennis Spronk)
See the frog in this Chinook? (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Trick of the trade
This year it will be the 8th time HWIC takes place. Participants crew are four AH-64D pilots, three CH-47D pilots and two loadmasters, plus one Cougar pilot and loadmaster. Their progress – crew and weapons management, decision making skills –  is overseen by the DHC Tactical Training, Evaluation and Standardisation Squadron (TACTESS), a similar unit to that involved in large scale exercise such as Frisian Flag and the reknown Fighter Weapons Instructor Course (FWIT), where F-16 pilots learn every trick of the trade. HWIC is similar to that.

The HWIC consists of several phases. The current phase teaches air crew everything there is to know about tactical operations, including evading enemy ground-to-air and air-to-air weapon systems. This module requires close co-operation between army and air force units.

Soldiers secure the area and wait for their transport (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Soldiers secure the area and wait for their transport (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Ready to take the troops back to base. This CH-47D Chinook is about to touch down the heathland (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Ready to take the troops back to base, this CH-47D Chinook is about to touch down in the exercise area.  (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Noise
For now, it seems the co-operation is moving along effortlessly. The heavy Chinook and Cougar pop again to pick up troops as soon as the gun fire has ended. But the danger is not over. The deafening noise from the helicopters prevents boarding troops from hearing enemy fire, so they move along cautiously but swiftly. The Chinook door gunners provide cover. As a rule, the helicopters will not leave the ground before all troops are on board. Observers monitor how air crews handle this kind of stress. No surprise, as these will be the men and women who’ll instruct their colleagues in the near future.

The pilots of this AS532 Cougar rely on the men at the door. Cooperation between helicopter crew members is essential to survive complex operations. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
The pilots of this AS532 Cougar rely on the men at the door. Cooperation between helicopter crew members is essential to survive complex operations. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
After everybody boarded, both CH-47D Chinooks depart back home(Image © Dennis Spronk)
After everybody boarded, both CH-47D Chinooks depart back home(Image © Dennis Spronk)

As the choppers leave, quit times then return to the heath, but for a few hours only. The operation will be repeated later in the day. Over the course, the HWIC missions start to get more intensive. What awaits, is the grande finale, one that includes the use of live ammo. In November, the Bergen-Hohne shooting range in Germany will be the place to be for HWIC students.

After they finish the HWIC training course, they’ll be prepared to instruct their colleagues in getting ready for the real deal, which means taking part in any military mission all over the place, or wherever the Royal Netherlands Air Force provides its share and where it needs its qualified personnel.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editors Elmer van Hest & Dennis Spronk.

Royal Netherlands Air Force Apache crew (Image © Ministerie van Defensie)
Royal Netherlands Air Force Apache crew (Image © Ministerie van Defensie)

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