CHI­NOOK USE DE­FENDED

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

The NATO com­mand in Afghanistan is de­fend­ing the ven­er­a­ble CH-47 Chi­nook, the he­li­copter shot down Aug. 6, killing 30 Amer­i­cans, in­clud­ing 17 Navy SEALs.

The Wash­ing­ton Times first re­ported Aug. 25 that the twinengine he­li­copter is the most sus­cep­ti­ble to rocket-pro­pelled­grenades (RPGs) based on data com­piled by a for­mer Army avi­a­tor. It also said the Tal­iban was “some­what skilled” in hit­ting copters with RPGs. For ex­am­ple, an RPG brought down the CH-47 on Aug. 6 as it was land­ing; in 2005, an RPG felled a spe­cial op­er­a­tions MH-47 he­li­copter sent to res­cue pinned down SEALs.

“The use of the Chi­nook for op­er­a­tions in Afghanistan is ex­ten­sive,” Army Col. Gary Kolb told re­porter Rowan Scar­bor­ough. “The Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions forces alone have con­ducted over 10,000 rotary wing mis­sions in the past year alone, with the ma­jor­ity of those mis­sions us­ing Chi­nooks. [. . . ] Over­all, [the mil­i­tary in Afghanistan] has con­ducted over 50,000 rotary wing mis­sions in the past year alone.

“To give credit to the Tal­iban as be­ing ‘some­what skilled’ in their abil­ity in shoot he­li­copters down is quite a leap and I’d be cu­ri­ous as to what cri­te­ria is used to make that assess­ment con­sid­er­ing the num­ber of rotary wing mis­sions con­ducted in Afghanistan,” Col. Kolb said.

The Times quoted spe­cial op­er­a­tions sources as say­ing the Chi­nook is not de­signed to land in the midst of a fire­fight.

Mc­Clatchy news­pa­pers quoted Pen­tagon of­fi­cials as say­ing a crash probe will de­ter­mine whether the com­mand should send Chi­nooks di­rectly into a bat­tle.

Bill Gertz can be reached at in­sid­e­ther ing@wash­ing­ton­times.com.

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