CHINOOK USE DEFENDED
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 email@example.com.