History of War - - OPERATOR’S HANDBOOK -


The UK’S fi­nal de­ci­sion to pur­chase CH-47S didn’t come un­til 1978. Just over ten years ear­lier, in March 1967, an or­der was placed to re­place the Bristol Belvedere, but the UK de­cided to can­cel the con­tract just six months later due to ex­ten­sive lob­by­ing from UK man­u­fac­tur­ers. The ini­tial 33 Chi­nook HC1S, based on the CH-47C ver­sion with some el­e­ments of the Cana­dian ver­sion, en­tered ser­vice in late 1980 at RAF Odi­ham, just in time to be used in ac­tion dur­ing the Falk­lands War in 1982.

Four Chi­nooks were sent on the Bri­tish mer­chant ship SS At­lantic Con­veyor. How­ever, three were lost when the ship was hit by an Ex­o­cet air-to-sur­face mis­sile on 25 May 1982. Luck­ily CH-47 ZA718 ‘Bravo Novem­ber’ was away from the ship at the time of the at­tack, re­sup­ply­ing Bri­tish ships. Bravo Novem­ber con­tin­ued in the war as the sole avail­able heavy lift-he­li­copter, sur­viv­ing a night time in­ad­ver­tent ditch­ing (dur­ing which the co-pi­lot got as far as jet­ti­son­ing his door to es­cape be­fore the air­craft lifted clear) and fly­ing way in de­fi­ance of rou­tine main­te­nance pro­to­cols.

Dur­ing the Falk­lands War, the Bri­tish Army cap­tured an Ar­gen­tine CH-47 (us­ing the door to stop BN’S co-pi­lot get­ting cold) and this was brought back to the UK to be used as a train­ing de­vice and even­tu­ally do­nat­ing its rear fuse­lage to re­pair Chi­nook ZA704 fol­low­ing a night dust land­ing ac­ci­dent in Oman.

In ad­di­tion to the Falk­lands cam­paign, RAF Chi­nooks have also seen ex­ten­sive ser­vice, in­clud­ing peace-keep­ing com­mit­ments in the Balkans, counter-ter­ror­ism in North­ern Ire­land and ac­tion in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. While de­ployed dur­ing the Afghanistan con­flict the RAF CH-47 be­came a valu­able as­set, be­com­ing well known for its emer­gency re­sponse role, in which the rear of the air­craft be­came an emer­gency op­er­at­ing the­atre. In many ways, as the UH-1 ‘Huey’ came to sym­bol­ise the US war in Viet­nam, the Chi­nook be­came the defin­ing im­age of the UK’S com­mit­ment in Afghanistan.

RAF Chi­nooks have re­ceived ex­ten­sive up­grades over their op­er­a­tional life and have also re­ceived dozens of ca­pa­bil­ity up­grades dur­ing op­er­a­tions thanks to the Ur­gent Op­er­a­tional Re­quire­ment (UOR) process. Many of these fits are short term, oth­ers re­main sen­si­tive. Some per­sist on the air­craft and are fit­ted fleet-wide.

A Royal Air Force crew demon­strates con­sid­er­able team­work in bal­anc­ing over 16 tons of Chi­nook on a con­crete block dur­ing a han­dling ex­er­cise

A pair of RAF CH-47 fit­ted with the Ti­tan 385ES-HD Multi-sen­sor Tur­ret Sys­tem op­er­ate on the vast Sal­is­bury Plain Train­ing Area in the UK. The Ti­tan 385ES-HD Multi-sen­sor Tur­ret Sys­tem com­bines high per­for­mance sen­sors into a sin­gle Line Re­place­able

Unit (LRU) so­lu­tion, to meet the op­er­a­tional de­mands of to­day’s air­borne ob­ser­va­tion, sur­veil­lance and re­con­nais­sance re­quire­ments

RAF Chi­nook ZD574 flies the Mach (Machyn­l­leth) loop in Wales. The Mach loop is a se­ries of moun­tain val­leys where pi­lots can hone their low-level tac­ti­cal fly­ing skills

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