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