The CH-47F improved cargo helicopter offers reduced vibration, improved avionics and more powerful engine. Credit: Boeing.
Chinook helicopter is used to pick up US troops in Afghanistan. Credit: Boeing.
Pictured in the foreground is a Royal Air Force CH-47 Chinook flying with two USMC CH-53 Sea Stallions during a twilight training sortie in Arizona. Two Royal Air Force Chinook CH-47 helicopters from 27 Sqn, RAF Odiham located in Hampshire (UK), deployed to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona, USA to take part in a twice-a-year training a development programme known as WTI. WTI stands for Weapons and Tactics Instructor and is a course that aims to develop aircrew - both pilots and NCO's - to an instructional level. It is conducted in the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) building and the vast amount of desert terrain training areas within Arizona. Following completion of this, they will then be able to transfer and disseminate these skills to those in their chain of command. Not only are the aircrew trained to instructional level, but they are also able to practise and develop niche skillsets that would normally only be developed in active conflicts. An example of this is deploying to a Forward Arming and Refuelling Point (FARP) in order to provide rapid refuelling and arming to other air and land assets in remote locations, often far from their main operating base. The CH-53 Sea Stallion operated by the US Marine Corps is a heavy-lift transport helicopter and has seen considerable use in warzones and served in various conflicts during its service.

The CH-47D Chinook helicopter transports troops, artillery, supplies and equipment to the battlefield with other applications ranging from medical evacuation, aircraft recovery, parachute drop, search and rescue to disaster relief, firefighting and heavy construction.

There are more than 1,200 operational Chinooks in the world and 163 CH-47Ds took part in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Boeing delivered over 480 CH-47D Chinooks to the US Army and National Guard. The US Army Chinooks are currently undergoing digital improvements to keep the aircraft operational for the next 20 years.

Boeing delivered the helicopter to military and commercial operators in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Japan, Norway, Spain and the UK, as well as three countries in the Far East.

Chinooks are under licensed production by AgustaWestland of Italy and Kawasaki in Japan. Chinooks built by AgustaWestland were exported to Egypt, Greece, Iran, Libya and Morocco.

The 100th Chinook CH 47F was delivered to the US Army in August 2010.

Chinook helicopter upgrades

397 US Army CH-47D helicopters were upgraded to CH-47F standard. The low-rate initial production (LRIP) contract for seven systems was signed in January 2003.

Selex provided new avionics equipment and systems for 16 Chinook ICH-47F helicopters owned by the Italian Army under the contract awarded by AgustaWestland.

In August 2010, the UK accepted fielding kits and 28 Honeywell T55-L-714A engines for Chinook helicopters for operation in Afghanistan.

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.

In March 2013, US-based L-3 Avionics Systems was awarded an $18.6m contract to provide avionics displays for upgraded CH-47s for the US Army.

“There are more than 1,200 operational Chinooks in the world.”

Boeing was awarded a contract from the Netherlands Ministry of Defence to modernise six Chinook helicopters of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) to CH-47F standard in December 2017. The upgraded helicopters are scheduled to be delivered by 2021.

Boeing received a contract to upgrade approximately 500 US Army Chinook helicopters under the Block II upgrade programme in July 2017. The programme entered the final assembly stage in June 2018.

UTC Aerospace System introduced a new lightweight ballistic protection system for the Boeing CH-47 Chinook’s cargo on / off loading system (COOLS) in October 2018.

Boeing received a contract to upgrade 17 Spanish Army’s CH-47D Chinook helicopters to the CH-47F configuration in January 2019. Deliveries will commence in 2021.

CH-47F Chinook helicopter

The CH-47F design features alterations to the airframe structure to reduce the effects of vibration and 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) and a data transfer system storing pre-flight and mission data.

The higher powerful Honeywell T55-GA-714A engines are fitted with full authority digital engine control (FADEC) and have a thrust of 3,529kW (4,733shp). The operating range was increased to 609km (329nm) with a mission radius of 370.4km (200nm).

MH-47D and MH47E special operations Chinook helicopters

The US Army special operations forces operate 36 special operation Chinooks designed as MH-47D and MH-47E. The aircraft were 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. 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 a new request for proposals. In December 2008, the USAF restarted the competition again but did not specify a date for contract award. The CSAR-X programme was cancelled in 2009.

The US Army Special Operations Aviation Command awarded a $139.8m contract to Boeing in July 2018 for four MH-47G Block II Chinook helicopters with Chinook Block II upgrades for enhanced performance. The deliveries are scheduled for 2020.

69 MH-47G Chinook helicopters are in service with the US Army.

Boeing CH-47 Chinook cockpit

The cockpit accommodates two pilots and an observer. Boeing and Honeywell developed an advanced digital cockpit. 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 features AN/APX-100 identification friend or foe (IFF) interrogator from AlliedSignal.

Chinook weapons

The helicopter is armed with three guns, including two at 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 equipped in January 2010.


The Chinook is equipped with a suite of countermeasure 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 were fitted with EADS AN/AAR-60 MILDS missile warning system.

Chinook sensors

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.

Chinook cargo systems

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, based North Carolina, US.

The cabin provides 42m³ of cargo space and 21m² of cargo floor area and can accommodate two high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWVs) or an HMMWV together with 105mm howitzer and gun crew.

The main cabin can hold from 33 to 50 fully equipped troops, depending on the seating arrangements and equipment being carried. For medical evaluation, the cabin can accommodate 24 litters (stretchers). Ramp operations can be carried out on the water using an optional power-down ramp and water dam configuration.

Chinook engines

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 from Goodrich.

Its 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.

Landing gear for the CH-47F is supplied by Cirtor Aerospace of Corona, California.

Chinook helicopter orders and deliveries

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 Chinook helicopters. In January 2007, the US Army ordered 16 new and nine remanufactured CH-47F with options on 22 new and 19 remanufactured 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 US Army awarded a $4bn multi-year contract for 177 CH-47F helicopters in June 2013. The contract includes an option to increase the total number of aircraft to 215.

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 Netherlands received its first two CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters 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 CH-47D was delivered in November 2008. Also, in April 2008, Canada issued a request for proposal to Boeing for the long-term procurement of 16 medium-to-heavy lift (MHLH) Chinook helicopters. In August 2009, Canada entered a $1.15bn contract with Boeing to buy 15 CH-47Fs.

CH-47F in Canadian Armed Forces’ service is referred to as CH-147F. The first helicopter was delivered in June 2013 and the fifth in October 2013, while the remaining were delivered by June 2014.

In December 2009, the UK Government announced the purchase of 24 CH-47F Chinooks. In August 2011, Boeing won a $2.51bn contract to provide 14 new CH-47 Chinook helicopters to the UK Royal Air Force. The first flight took place in March 2013.

CH-46F was approved for full-rate production and entered operational service in August 2007. In February 2008, the US Army ordered another 11 newbuild helicopters, bringing the number of new CH-47F ordered to 59.

In August 2008, Boeing received a $4.3bn five-year contract from the US Army for 191 CH-47F helicopters, of which 109 will be newbuilds and 72 remanufactured. Boeing delivered the first helicopter in February 2009. The contract has a provision for a priced option to order 24 additional aircraft. The 300th helicopter was delivered in October 2014.

In May 2009, Boeing and AgustaWestland signed a $1.23bn contract to deliver 16 ICH-47F helicopters for the Italian Army.

The first ICH-47F helicopter performed maiden flight in June 2013 and first two helicopters were delivered in October 2014.

Australia ordered seven CH-47Fs in March 2010 to substitute CH-47Ds and the first two CH-47Fs entered service in May 2015. In December 2011, the country ordered two CH-47D Chinook transport helicopters for domestic use.

India ordered 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters in September 2015. The first six CH-47F Chinook helicopters were delivered to the Indian Air Force by July 2019.