Training Area Kahukus, Hawaii. (September 3, 2022): To the Native Americans who lived along the Columbia River, the Chinook was the “Snow Eater”, a great south wind that arrived each year that often-made life all but impossible. To the U.S. Army, the Chinook has proven a reliable workhorse in the sky delivering troops, food, and supplies for the past half century.
The Army is planning to fly the Chinook Helicopter for another 50 years.
That’s right, through a series of technological upgrades to this flying platform, the military believes it can keep the newest version, the CH-47F Chinook, in the air for nearly a century. First produced in the 1960s, the Army plans to continuously upgrade the Chinook until at least 2060. This is good news for the pilots and crews that fly them, but even better for the troops who will be safely ferried into combat riding the “great south wind”.
The greatest advantage of the Chinook is its ability to operate at high altitudes over mountain terrain moving men and equipment to the most inaccessible locations reliably and safely. The Ch-47F is 52 feet long, 18 feet high, and can carry a 26,000-flight load at a cruising speed of 181 mph in all types of weather conditions. She is armed with three machine guns, one on each door and another at the back cargo opening, along with advanced electronic countermeasures against ballistic missile attacks. The modernized frame will offer greater protection from small arms fire and cutting-edge heat lasers to defend against anti-aircraft fire.
Other improvements will include:
- An upgraded pilot-vehicle interface to better organize and display critical flight information to allow pilots to make quicker decisions.
- Increased ability to fly “high/hot” missions above 6,000 feet and at temperatures as high as 95 degrees.
- A “sling load” that allows the Chinook to reposition heavy vehicles and equipment in mountainous areas with no roads.
- A modernized on/off load capability to speed up moving of pallets and supplies.
All these upgrades mean one thing to the servicemembers whose lives depend on the Chinook, survivability. These investments translate into greater protections and safety for the crews and passengers while increasing the capability of the Chinook for the next 50 years.The servicemembers who depend on the “Snow Eater” should also know that they can rely on the American people for support.
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