Air Transportation: The State Department Air Force Expands


March 29, 2012: The U.S. Marine Corps is giving 16-24 of its CH-46E helicopters to the U.S. State Department Air Wing (SDAW). Yes, the State Department has its own air force, which currently has about 240 aircraft. These fixed wing aircraft and helicopters are stationed all over the world, to transport State Department personnel on official business. The marines are replacing many of their 200 elderly CH-46Es with V-22 tilt-wing aircraft. The State Department will refurbish (and repaint) the CH-46Es before putting them to work for another decade or so.

The 11 ton CH-46E helicopter can carry 12 troops 350 kilometers at a speed of 200 kilometers an hour, or 25 troops (or 2.5 tons of cargo) for about half that distance. The CGH-46E can carry 1.36 tons (3,000 pounds) via an external sling for 90 kilometers. The combat crew consists of two pilots, a crew chief and two gunners. The last of 534 CH-46s was built in 1971, and most of them have been upgraded several times since then.

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