In the middle of November 2022, the Boeing company delivered the twentieth CH-47F Chinook transport helicopter to the Royal Netherlands Air Force. This marked the completion of the country´s latest fleet upgrade.
The CH-47F is the latest, upgraded variant of popular tandem rotor helicopter, developed in the late 1950s by Vertol company. The prototype performed its first flight on 21st September 1961 and one year later was introduced into operational service with the United States armed forces.
The rotorcraft was acquired by approximately twenty armed forces all over the world, recording a pretty impressive combat history. The CH-47 had its operational premiere during the Vietnam War, with first Chinooks arriving there in the late 1965. Then, the rotorcraft were used in the Iran-Iraq War, Libyan wars, the Falklands War, Iraq wars, NATO activities in Afghanistan and the Middle East, as well as in many missions and disaster relief operations supervised by the United Nations.
The story of Dutch Chinooks began in 1993, with acquirement of thirteen CH-47 helicopters. The first batch included seven ex-Canadian CH-147 helicopters, modernized by the Boeing company into the CH-47D standard and then delivered to their new operator until 1996. At the same time, the Netherlands purchased six new Chinooks of the same D variant. That second batch was received until 1998.
During twenty years of operational service with the Royal Dutch Air Force, the CH-47s were deployed to the Balkans (within SFOR and KFOR forces), UNMEE mission in Eritrea, SFIR forces in Iraq, as well as Afghanistan – the latter deployment resulted in loss of two Dutch Chinooks, due to accidents that occurred in 2005.
Discussion about the future of the Dutch transport rotorcraft was opened in the early 2010s. It resulted in the Chinook Replacement and Modernization programme, launched in 2015. Next year, the Netherlands purchased fourteen new CH-47F helicopters through the Foreign Military Sales initiative supervised by the US Department of Defense. In addition, an agreement on upgrading of six existing D-model Chinooks into the same F configuration was signed with the Boeing company.
In November of 2022, following the delivery of the last CH-47F helicopter, the modernization of Dutch fleet was successfully completed.
The CH-47F Chinook is an advanced multi-mission helicopter containing a fully integrated, digital cockpit management system compatible with Common Avionics Architecture System. Its advanced cargo-handling capabilities further complement the aircraft’s mission performance and handling characteristics.
´This is a milestone for us. We have newer radios and newer equipment which help our pilots operate better in different environments than we do already´, said LTC Wil van Rijn, senior system integrator of the Chinook, Dutch Ministry of Defence.
The RNLAF is one of the eight NATO air forces to operate tandem rotor transport helicopters from the Chinook family, next to Canada, Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, the UK and the USA.
Cover photo: CH-47F Chinook of the RNLAF, photo © Boeing company. Information from the Boeing company press materials were used.