Twice the Met­tle

What­ever the mis­sion, the twin- ro­tor CH- 7 Chi­nook an­swers the call for the Royal Air Force

India Strategic - - INDUSTRY -

DARK GREEN CH- 47 Chi­nook he­li­copters lift off one by one from Royal Air Force Odi­ham, an air­field an hour south­west of Lon­don, and dis­ap­pear over the hori­zon. Next stop is a training mis­sion, ship de­ploy­ment or re­lief ef­fort.

Built by Boe­ing, the Bri­tish­based tan­dem ro­tor­craft are in such de­mand these days that the men and women who fly them have a stan­dard re­frain when­ever their ser­vices are re­quested. “As we like to say, the an­swer is two Chi­nooks; now what’s the ques­tion?” Two he­li­copters typ­i­cally are all that’s needed when trans­port­ing troops, de­liv­er­ing cargo or evac­u­at­ing wounded from a bat­tle­field, ac­cord­ing to the pi­lots and crew who fly them.

For 35 years, the CH-47 Chi­nook has an­swered the call of United King­dom mil­i­tary needs and hu­man­i­tar­ian ef­forts. It has rushed to bat­tle in the Falk­land Is­lands and in Afghanistan. It has res­cued res­i­dents in peril when flood­ing has sub­merged large sec­tions of the English coun­try­side. It con­tin­ues to daz­zle spec­ta­tors with its ac­ro­batic nim­ble­ness at Euro­pean air shows.

The RAF re­mains so re­liant on the Chi­nook, in fact, it took de­liv­ery in De­cem­ber of the last of 14 new he­li­copters—the lat­est Mk6 model with a new, ma­chined mono­lithic air­frame, UK- spe­cific avion­ics and mis­sion sys­tems, air­craft de­fen­sive sys­tems, and in­ter­op­er­a­ble com­mu­ni­ca­tion and nav­i­ga­tion equip­ment. These new­est Chi­nooks have in­creased the UK fleet to 60—a to­tal ex­ceeded only by the United States Army and Ja­panese mil­i­tary.

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