2008: For the last two decades, the U.S. Army used the its UH-60 "Blackhawk" helicopter
for combat assault missions, while the larger CH-47 "Chinook" was used just for
moving cargo. But the army found that, in the high altitudes of Afghanistan,
the more powerful CH-47 was often the only way to go in the thin mountain air. While
doing that, the army found that the CH-47 made an excellent assault helicopter.
In many ways, it was superior to the UH-60, mainly because the CH-47 carries more troops and moves faster and
Blackhawk can only carry eleven troops, and max speed is 285 kilometers an
hour, with endurance of 2.1 hours. The
CH-47F can carry ten tons of
cargo, or up to 55 troops, and has a maximum range of 426 kilometers. Its max
speed is 315 kilometers an hour. Typical missions last no more than 2.5 hours.
This means that one CH-47 can carry 40-50 combat troops, and all their gear.
For most air assaults, one CH-47 does the job that would otherwise require five
CH-47s entered service in 1962, able to carry only five tons. Some 750 saw
service in Vietnam, and 200 were lost in action. Between 1982-94, 500 CH-47s
were rebuilt to the CH-47D standard. SOCOM operates 31 MH-47Ds and Es, which
have additional navigation gear. These are being upgraded to MH-47F standards,
and the fleet expanded to 61 helicopters. As a result of all this, the CH-47
will end up serving at least 75 years. The CH-47F upgrades and new builds will
not be completed until 2018. New CH-47Fs cost about $35 million each.