Features, Types and Tasks
|The 11 heavy Chinook CH-47D transport helicopters are used to move ground troops quickly. They also transport weapons, materiel, food and other supplies. Loading and unloading is done quickly through the loading ramp at the rear of the aircraft. Larger cargoes are carried by hooks slung under the helicopter.
The Netherlands signed an agreement with the Canadian government early in 1993 to acquire 7 Boeing CH 147 Chinooks that were no longer being used by the Canadian Armed Forces. In December 1993, the number of Chinooks was set at 13 (7 used and 6 new), with the second-hand Chinooks being modernised to the same standard as the one's being purchased new. Boeing delivered the modernised Chinooks to the Royal Netherlands Air Force between August 1995 and February 1996. The 6 new Chinooks were delivered in 1998. They have a modern 'glass cockpit' with digital read-outs instead of traditional dials and meters.
The Canadian Chinooks date from 1974 and were thoroughly updated and modified by Boeing. The retrofitting brought them up to the more modern CH-47D standard. In addition to modern communications equipment and avionics, the D version also has greater lifting capability. There are three hooks under the aircraft that can carry a load up to 12,700 kg. That is twice as much as its predecessors could carry.
The Chinooks are very recognisable because of the 2 large three-blade rotors at the front and rear of the body. The two engines are mounted on the rear of the body. The non-retractable landing gear is located under the 4 corners of the body. The body ends in a loading ramp at the rear, making loading and unloading personnel and materiel very fast.
Dutch Chinooks have been deployed around the world. They provided support to the Kosovo Force (KFOR) and Operation Allied Harbour in Albania, and to UNMEE (Eritrea) in 2000 and 2001. In 2002, Chinooks were active in support of the SFOR peacekeeping force in Bosnia. The Chinooks also supported the SFIR operation in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. This was followed in 2005 and 2006 by Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan. Chinook helicopters also flew in Afghanistan from May 2007 to October 2010 as part of the ISAF operation.
As part of KFOR, 3 Chinooks were stationed in the Balkans in 1999. They were used extensively for transporting Kosovar refugees and supplies. They flew more than 700 missions, transporting several hundred refugees and 545 tonnes of supplies by air.
From January 2001 to the end of May 2004, 10 detachments from the Royal Netherlands Air Force took part in SFOR, initially with 5 Cougars and later with 4 Chinooks flying out of Divulje Barracks in Split. Starting in July 2002, 2 Cougars operated out of the Dutch SFOR base in Bugojno. One of the tasks during that deployment was transporting the members of the Incident Response Team to the location of casualties among the SFOR units and the medical evacuation of casualities to hospital (medevac). In 3.5 years, the Cougars and Chinooks logged approximately 4,300 flying hours carrying out nearly 750 IRT missions and 280 medevac missions.
Stabilisation Force Iraq
From July 2003 to November 2005, 3 Chinook and 4 Cougar helicopters alternated in operating out of Tallil Air Base in Iraq, supported by approximately 100 flight-support military personnel. The detachment provided tactical air support to the other Dutch units in the SFIR security force. One of the aircraft was also on standby for medical evacuations.
Operation Enduring Freedom/International Security Assistance Force
From May 2005 to June 2006, 3 Chinooks provided support to the Dutch Special Forces in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in southern Afghanistan.
Since May 2007, Chinooks have operated regularly from Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan in support of the ISAF mission. Those Chinooks are part of the Air Task Force (ATF) that provides support to Regional Command South to the Dutch Task Force Uruzgan units and coalition partners.
Chinooks and Cougars are also used for firefighting duties. Both of those helicopter types can be fitted with so-called 'fire buckets'. Fire buckets are flexible water containers that can be hung under the helicopter. A Chinook can then carry nearly 10,000 litres of water to a fire site. It can also lay down a curtain of water to prevent the fire from spreading or to protect buildings and other structures.
The CH-47Ds are assigned to 298 Squadron of the Royal Netherlands Air Force at Gilze-Rijen Air Base. Along with 300 Squadron (Cougars) and 301 Squadron (Apaches), they are an important part of the Defence Helicopter Command. The Chinooks were formerly stationed at Soesterberg Air Base, which closed in November 2008.
Additions to the Chinook fleet
A procurement process is currently running to acquire 6 new CH-47F Chinooks. That is partly to replace the two Chinooks that were lost and partly to meet the major requirement for heavy transport helicopters. After the acquisition of the new helicopters, the current Chinooks will be updated up to CH-47F standards.