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5-Years On

DND 101 Archive: Medium-Lift Helicopter – Boeing CH-147D Chinook

Update: Update: TF-Afg Air Wing stood down 18 Aug 2011. An AF listing of aircraft hours flown shows the CH-147Ds flying 7085 hours while carrying 89,314 passengers and 7,090,889 lbs/3,216.37 tonnes of freight. By comparison, leased Mi-8s flew 7,257.48 tonnes of cargo. One damaged CH-147D will return to Canada (presumably to act as a training aid) the other 4 survivors will be stored, unsold at AMARG.

CH-147D Chinook – the CF's  Born-Again  Medium-to-Heavy Lift   Transport  Helicopter
The Canadian Forces operated 8  CH-147C Chinooks from 1974 to 1992. [1] In 2005, then-CDS, General Rick Hillier, made Chinooks (or similar medium-lift helicopters) his top priority for the Kandahar deployment. The Harper govern- ment responded in July 2006 with an ACAN  for 16 newly- built CH-47F Chinooks.[2]  Two and a half years later, that ACAN  had yet  to result in a contract with Boeing. Mean- while, DND looked for alternatives and found the CH-47D.

The MND, Peter MacKay, rejected rebuilt US Army Chinooks. DND then attempted without  success to  lease Chinooks from the US.  Under pressure from the terms of the Manley Report, DND arranged to buy CH-47Ds already in Afghanistan  from the US Army. Six helicopters  –  redesignated CH-147D – were handed over to the CF in Dec 2008 to be operational in Feb 2009.[3]

 Boeing  CH-147D  Chinook   Specifications
 Length: 15.6m fuselage, 30.2m rotors
 turning,[4] width: 3.8m, ht(oa): 5.8 m
 2 x Honeywell T55-712 turboshafts
 2796 kW (3750 shp) maximum power
  Speed:  Max. 269 km/h, cruise 220 km/h [5]
  Perfor.:  Range 656 km, hover ceiling: 3110 m
 Empty 10578 kg, max gross 24494 kg
 useful load 13916 kg, slung forward/
 aft hooks, 9072 kg, centre, 12701 kg

The six CH-147Ds form part of the Canadian Helicopter Force (Afghanistan) which, in turn, is a unit of the CF's new Air Wing Kandahar (stood up 6 December 2008). These helicopters were transferred directly from the US Army at  Bagram AB. The CH-147D's armament is like most US  'Hooks' – pintle mounted 7.62mm machineguns in forward port  cabin window, starboard  crew door, and  on the open rear ramp door (left). [6]

CH-147Ds have a crew of  five – pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer (doubling as a gunner) plus two other gunners. CF Chinooks' countermeasures include missile warning sensors mounted in pairs on nose, tail, and both rotor pylons; infrared decoy flare dispensers on rear fuselage, two beneath each engine exhaust pipe, beneath each intake (with  EAPS dust covers to minimize foreign object injestion), plus CBT ( Centre Body Tailpipes) to reduce exhaust signature. [7]  Of course, none of that protects from small arms fire. One CH-147D was lost to Taliban ground fire. It was later replaced by another leased US Army Chinook (but no lease details have been given). [8]  In early Feb 2011, DND announced that the CH-147Ds were for sale but there were no takers.

[1] See Bill Walker's Canadian Military Aircraft Serial Numbers for a listing of  CH-147C Chinook airframes and  their individual histories.
[2] On this ' CH-147F+ ',  DND has been criticized by industry for constantly shifting requirements and by analysts for "platinum plating". When a $1.2B contract with Boeing was finally announced on 10 Aug 2009, the total number of  new airframes had dropped from 16 to 15.
[3] The CH-147Ds will be fully operational in Feb 2009 but these helicopters are already flying out of  KAF.  The Chinooks operate beside eight CH-146 Griffon utility helicopters and six leased Russian Mil Mi-8T transport helicopters operated on behalf of Skylink International. The original purchase price for the six CH-47Ds was $252M, that number was later revised upwards to $282M. No price was been released for the lease of an additional in-country US Army CH-47D to replace a CF CH-147D lost at Armarah, Panjwaii District, in August of 2010.
[4] That is the total length of the helicopter including the discs of both rotors turning.  The actual rotor diameter for the CH-147D is 18.3 m.
[5] Such perfomance numbers are based on an International Standard Atmosphere (ISA), ie: average sea level pressure and temperature in a temperate climate. Kandahar conditions, especially during summer, are anything but average. Performance out of  KAF will be degraded.
[6] The CH-147D is armed with US 7.62mm M240H spade-grip machineguns, a direct equivalent of  the CF C6 GPMG. The M240H retains its bipod for emergency dismounted use. Only 4 M240Hs were included in the original FMS notice for the CH-47Ds. It may be that the US machineguns are being supplemented by pintle-mount C6s. Optional future defensive armament for CH-147Ds include the M134 Minigun.
[7] The IR signature reducing Centre Body Tailpipe is a product of Ottawa-based WR Davis Engineering (which supplies a similar system for the CH-146 Griffon).  The EAPS dust filters, or Centrisep Engine Air Particle Separator system, is a product of  Florida-based Pall Corp.
[8] In August 2010, that CH-147D with five crew and 15 troops on board was lost when hit by Taliban small arms fire while flying over the Panjwaii district.  That Chinook flew on to make a "heavy landing" at Armarah,  20 km  SW of  Kandahar,  and  burned out on the ground. On 16 May 2011, another CH-147D Chinook rolled on landing in a Panjwaii riverbed. Four CF personnel were injured in its "hard landing".

Photo Credits – CH-147D Chinook side view and C6 machinegun: Stephen Priestley, centre right: CTV, others: Canadian Forces/DND.