The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) has been flying its final of six Boeing CH-47F Chinook medium-lift helicopters for a week now on Friday September 27, 2013.
Personnel of the Logistic Centre at Woensdrecht Airbase made the final modifications to the machine on September 20, 2013, before it flew to homebase Gilze Rijen in the south of the country. The modifications are made after lessons learned with the older CH-47D the Dutch have operated since 1991 when 7 Canadian CH-47C were modified to the D-standard. Most of the experience has been gained during real-war operations in Afghanistan over the last few years, where the RNLAF lost two CH-47s.
Among other things a special protective coating has been applied to the windows, a tailor-made plate has been added to protect the operation panel in the cargo area and several areas have been strengthened. The latter because groups of soldiers with heavy gear damaged the loading ramp while the chopper is used for normal operations.
The last CH-47F made its first European flight from the harbour of Antwerp in Belgium to Woensdrecht Airbase about a month ago, which resulted in an airborne time of only 7 minutes.
Compared to older models the CH-47F has a fully digitalised cockpit. An automatic flight system makes safer and more precise flights possible in difficult conditions, like in dusty or sandy areas. The F-version also has a Forward Looking Infrared for better overview of the terrain after dark. Furthermore the helicopters have 5 in stead of 3 fast-rope positions, better self protection systems and can accommodate heavier weapons.
Of the six CH-47Fs only 3 fly in the European theatre from Gilze-Rijen Airbase, the others are deployed with the Joint Netherlands Training Detachment at Fort Hood in the USA. The RNLAF also flies 11 CH-47Ds.
Source: Ministerie van Defensie (Dutch MoD)