Warplanes: The Dutch Get Chinook Fever


October 14, 2006: The Netherlands is buying nine of the latest version of the CH-47 Chinook, the CH47F. In addition, the Dutch will upgrade eleven of their CH47Ds to the CH-47F standard. All this will cost some $562 million. The U.S. Army is in the midst of creating a fleet of 513 CH-47F helicopters (including 397 rebuilt CH-47D choppers, 55 new ones, plus special versions.) The program will make the rebuilt machines good for another twenty years of service. The F model CH-47 will have up-to-date digital communications, be easier to maintain, and cheaper to operate. The CH-47F can carry 11 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. The first 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 will be 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 are underway, and the program will not be completed until 2018.

The Dutch program will run in parallel with the U.S. Army one. The Dutch have sent some of their CH-47s on peacekeeping missions (including Afghanistan), and have been satisfied with their performance.


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