The Spanish army became the first European force to choose the CH-47C (HT-17) after other heavy-lift helicopters, such as the CH-53 Sea Stallion, CH-46 Sea Knight, SA321 Super
Frelon (France) and MI-6 Hook (Soviet Union/ Russia) had all been considered.
A new battalion named BHELTRA V was formed at Colmenar Viejo airbase, situated northwest of Madrid. Spanish army service commenced during 1974/75.
BHELTRA V’s motto is “Detras de Nadie” (behind no one) and the CH-47 operates many mission profiles, providing troop transport and moving heavy armament/equipment when tasked with supporting roles. The Spanish army CH-47 can also lift up to 10.5 tons of weight using the under-slung load capability and support special forces insertion/extraction, combat search and rescue and humanitarian tasking when requested.
Spain bought 13 CH-47CS and designated them as HT-17S. Nine were updated to D standards and an additional six new aircraft were purchased.
Several upgrade packages have taken place since 1989, with systems installed including the Extended Range Fuel System
II. This system not only allows the CH-47 to increase its flying range, it also enables the aircraft to refuel other aircraft or vehicles on the ground at a forward refuel point using the ‘Fat Cow Procedure’. VHF/FM secure radio communication with PR4G radio has been introduced and Iridium phone has been integrated into the satellite communications system. Improved ballistic protection against 7.62mm rounds has been added. Honeywell T55-714 turbine engines with FADEC system, and a helicopter engine inlet protection with an engine air particle separator (EAPS) upgrade have also been introduced. Spain plans to upgrade the CH-47D to the F model in 2019.
“BHELTRA V’S MOTTO IS ‘DETRAS DE NADIE’ (BEHIND NO ONE) AND THE CH-47 OPERATES MANY MISSION PROFILES”
Spain’s rugged and mountainous terrain allows the Spanish BHELTRA V crews to train in many different scenarios. A ski-fitted CH-47 practises snow landings in the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range
Every 23 June, the Spanish army celebrates its foundation. A formal ceremony is held with a large flypast of army helicopters to finish the event. CH-47S (H-17) from BHELTRA V form a large part of the flypast
RIGHT: The loadmaster/crewman conducts many tasks in the back cabin during a flight. As well as providing visual assistance to the pilots on the Intercom, they make sure cargo and passengers are loaded safely and efficiently