The Chinook CH-47F is an advanced multi-mission helicopter manufactured by American aerospace and defence firm Boeing for the US Army and international defence forces.
The CH-47D Chinook helicopter is used for the transportation of troops, artillery, supplies, and equipment to the battlefield.
Other roles include medical evacuation, aircraft recovery, parachute drop, search and rescue, disaster relief, fire-fighting and heavy construction.
More than 1,179 Chinooks are operational worldwide. Boeing delivered more than 480 CH-47D Chinooks to the US Army and National Guard. The US Army Chinooks underwent digital improvement to keep the aircraft on the war field for more than 20 years.
Boeing also exported the helicopter to military and commercial operators in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Japan, Norway, Spain, the UK and three Far East countries.
Chinooks are under licensed production by Italian defence technology company Leonardo (formerly known as AgustaWestland) and Japanese firm Kawasaki. Chinooks built by AgustaWestland were exported to Egypt, Greece, Iran, Libya, and Morocco.
CH-47F Chinook upgrade
The CH-47F design features alterations to the airframe structure to reduce the effects of vibration, as well as other structural enhancements to the cockpit, cabin, aft section, pylon and ramp.
The Rockwell Collins digital cockpit is fitted with the common avionics architecture system (CAAS) with improved electrical, avionics and communication systems. CAAS includes: five
multi-function displays, moving map display; digital modem; BAE Systems digital advanced flight control system (DAFCS); data transfer system storing pre-flight and mission data.
The more powerful Honeywell T55-GA-714A engines are fitted with FADEC (full authority digital engine control) and have thrust of 3,529kW (4,733shp). The operating range is increased to 609km (329nm) with mission radius of 370.4km (200nm).
Selex announced in March 2010 that it would provide new avionics equipment and systems for 16 Chinook CH-47F helicopters belonging to Italian Army under the contract awarded by AgustaWestland.
In May 2011, the US Army placed a $23.7m contract with Boeing for specialised avionics and airframe modifications to 49 CH-47F helicopters by April 2012. In January 2012, the army ordered 14 CH-47F Chinook helicopters worth $370m.
The first Multiyear II configured CH-47F Chinook helicopter was delivered to the US Army in July 2014. The Multiyear II configuration features a new cargo on-off loading system that helps for rapid reconfiguration of the aircraft floor during cargo missions. A cargo platform health environment system is also incorporated to enable health monitoring of the platform in real-time to reduce maintenance time and cost.
L-3 Avionics Systems received a contract worth $18.6m from the US Army in March 2013, to provide avionics displays for upgraded CH-47s.
MH-47D and MH-47E special operations variants
US Army special operations forces also operate 36 special operations Chinooks, designated as MH-47D and MH-47E. These aircraft are being upgraded to MH-47G standard with a fully integrated digital common avionics architecture system (CAAS). The first was delivered in May 2004.
In November 2006, a version of the MH-47G, the HH-47, was selected for the USAF combat search and rescue (CSAR-X) requirement for 141 new helicopters to replace the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters. However, in March 2007, the USAF announced that, following General Accounting Office (GAO) recommendations, it would issue a request for the resubmission of the CSAR-X proposals.
In October 2007, the USAF decided to re-open the contest and issued new request for proposals. In December 2008, the USAF again restarted the competition but did not specify a date for contract award. The CSAR-X programme was cancelled in 2009.
In August 2010, UK defence accepted fielding kits and 28 Honeywell T55-L-714A engines for Chinook helicopters for operation in Afghanistan.
Chinook Block II programme
Boeing was awarded a contract to develop a next-generation Chinook aircraft for the US Army and special operation forces in July 2017.
The Block II programme involves upgrading the aircraft to increase its lift capability. The upgrades include advanced blades, improved fuselage and fuel system, and a new drivetrain. In addition to delivering improved operational capability and reduced maintenance cost, the new Block II will ensure commonality across the fleet.
The cockpit accommodates two pilots and an observer. An advanced digital cockpit has been developed by Boeing and Honeywell. The cockpit is equipped with multifunction liquid crystal displays and electronic flight instruments. The crew is equipped with ANVIS-7 night-vision goggles from Elbit and the cockpit is night-vision-goggle (NVG) compatible.
The communications suite includes jam resistant HF and UHF radio systems developed and supplied by Rockwell Collins and Raytheon. The helicopter is equipped with an AN/APX-100 identification friend or foe (IFF) interrogator from AlliedSignal.
Weapons carried by CH-47F Chinook
Three machine guns can be mounted on the helicopter, including two in the crew door on the starboard side and one window-mounted on the port side.
In May 2008, Northrop Grumman was awarded a contract to equip the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s (RNLAF) CH-47Fs with the AAR-54 missile warning system. The systems were installed in January 2010.
The Chinook is equipped with a suite of countermeasures systems selected by the customer country.
The special forces variant of the Chinook, MH-47E, is fitted with the ATK AN/AAR-47 missile approach warner, Northrop Grumman ALQ-162 Shadowbox jammer, ITT ALQ-136(V) pulse jammer, Raytheon APR-39A radar warner and BAE Systems Integrated Defense Solutions (formerly Tracor) M-130 chaff and flare dispenser.
The helicopter is equipped with a Rockwell Collins CP1516-ASQ target hand-off system. Australian Chinooks are being fitted with EADS AN/AAR-60 MILDS missile warning system.
Sensors aboard CH-47F Chinook
The MH-47E is equipped with an advanced radar system, the Raytheon AN/APQ-174A, for terrain-following flight, air-to-ground ranging and ground mapping. A Raytheon AN/AAQ-16 forward-looking infrared (FLIR) is installed in the nose of the helicopter and the cockpit is fitted with a moving map display.
The Chinook has a triple-hook system, which provides stability to large external loads or the capacity for multiple external loads. Large external loads such as 155mm howitzers can be transported at speeds up to 260km/h using the triple-hook load configuration.
Multiple external loads can be delivered to three separate destinations in one sortie. The central hook is rated to carry up to 12,000kg and the other two hooks 7,500kg each. Cargo handling systems are provided by AAR Corp, Cargo Systems of Goldsboro, North Carolina.
The cabin provides 42m³ of cargo space and 21m² of cargo floor area and can accommodate two HMMWVs (high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle) or a HMMWV together with 105mm howitzer and gun crew.
The main cabin can hold from 33 fully equipped troops to 50 troops, according to the seating arrangements and equipment being carried. For medical evacuation, the cabin can accommodate 24 litters (stretchers). Ramp operations can be carried out on water using an optional power-down ramp and water dam configuration.
Engines of CH-47D/F / MH-47E Chinook
The helicopter is equipped with two T55-L-712 turboshaft engines from Honeywell (formerly AlliedSignal), which are pod-mounted on either side of the rear pylon under the rear rotor blades. The engine provides a continuous power of 3,000shp and maximum power of 3,750shp. The Honeywell T55-714 engine, which is being fitted to CH-47D, F and G models, is equipped with FADEC (full authority digital electronic control) from Goodrich.
The self-sealing fuel tanks are mounted in external fairings on the sides of the fuselage. The fixed tanks hold 3,900l of fuel. Three additional fuel tanks can be carried in the cargo area. The range of the helicopter can be extended by in-flight refuelling.
The landing gear for the CH-47F is supplied by Cirtor Aerospace, a US-based aerospace and defence products provider.
Chinook helicopter orders and deliveries
The US Army’s 397 CH-47D helicopters were upgraded to CH-47F standard. The low-rate initial production (LRIP) contract for seven systems was signed in January 2003. The first CH-47F Chinook helicopter was delivered in July 2004, while the 300th unit was delivered in October 2014.
In December 2003, the US Army ordered seven new CH-46F helicopters to replace those lost in action and, in January 2005, an additional ten new-build CH-47F helicopters.
In January 2007, the US Army ordered 16 new and nine re-manufactured CH-47F with options on 22 new and 19 re-manufactured helicopters. In November 2008, Boeing delivered the third CH-47F to the US Army, as it was certified as ready for combat in July 2007.
The CH-46F was approved for full-rate production and entered operational service in August 2007. In February 2008, the US Army ordered another 11 new-build helicopters, bringing the number of new CH-47F ordered to 59.
In September 2006, the Netherlands requested the foreign military sale of up to nine CH-47F helicopters with the common avionics architecture system and the upgrade of 11 CH-47D helicopters to CH-47F configuration, including the CAAS cockpit. An order for six new
helicopters was placed in February 2007. The first two of the six new helicopters were delivered in October 2012.
Canada requested the sale of six used CH-47D helicopters from the US for short-term deployment to Afghanistan, in April 2008.
The first was delivered in November 2008. Canada also issued a request for proposal to Boeing for the long-term procurement of 16 medium-to-heavy lift (MHLH) Chinook helicopters, in April 2008.
In August 2009, Canada signed a contract with Boeing to buy 15 CH-47Fs. The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) received its first CH-147F in June 2013, fifth in October 2013, and the 15th in June 2014.
Boeing will provide in-service support to the Canadian CH-147F helicopters for the next 20 years under a performance-based logistics contract.
In August 2008, Boeing received a $4.3bn five-year contract from the US Army for 191 CH-47F helicopters. The contract also included an option for 24 additional units. Boeing delivered the first helicopter in February 2009.
In August 2011, Boeing was awarded a contract worth £1bn ($1.64bn) to provide 14 new Mk6 CH-47 Chinook helicopters to the UK Royal Air Force (RAF), bringing the number of Chinooks in the RAF’s inventory to 60. The delivery of the final Mk6 Chinook under the contract was made in December 2015.
The Mk6 model features a machined monolithic airframe and is equipped with avionics, rescue hoist, and interoperable communication and navigation equipment designed as per the mission needs of the RAF.
In November 2011, Boeing submitted the second multi-year (Multi-year II) contract proposal to the US Army for production and delivery of 155 CH-47F helicopters equipped with vertical lift capability.
In May 2009, Boeing and AgustaWestland signed a $1.23bn contract to provide 16 ICH-47F helicopters for the Italian Army. The first two ICH-47F Chinook helicopters were delivered to the Italian army in October 2014.
Australia ordered seven CH-47Fs in March 2010 to upgrade the existing CH-47Ds. Boeing delivered the 7th CH-47F Chinook helicopter to the Australian Army in August 2015.
The Indian Ministry of Defence finalised an order with Boeing for the delivery of 15 CH-47F (I) along with 22 AH-64E Apache helicopters in September 2015. The company completed the delivery of the final five Chinook CH-47F (I) aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF) in March 2020.
The US Army Special Operations Aviation Command ordered four MH-47G special operation Chinook helicopters in July 2018. The helicopters were the first to be outfitted with the Chinook Block II upgrades.
Boeing received a contract modification from the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) to deliver seven more MH-47G Block II standard aircraft in July 2020. The first MH-47G Block II helicopter was delivered to SOCOM in September 2020. The company delivered the first CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopter to the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) in May 2021.
Boeing secured a contract worth $578m to manufacture 14 extended range Chinook helicopters for the UK RAF under the foreign military sales programme in June 2021.