Chinook a military workhorse
About 1,000 Chinook helicopters have been built for the U.S. military.
August 6th, 2011
11:58 AM ET

Chinook a military workhorse

The CH-47 Chinook that crashed Saturday in Afghanistan is the workhorse helicopter of the military, used for decades to haul large numbers of troops and quantities of equipment.

Depending on the configuration, the tandem-rotor Chinook can carry 33 to 55 troops, plus two pilots on the flight deck, according to Jane's Defence Equipment and Technology.

The Boeing-built copter runs on two Honeywell engines providing 3,000 to 4,000 horsepower each. It is capable of speeds up to 159 mph. The front rotor turns counter-clockwise while the rear rotor turns clockwise. The Chinook's three cargo hooks can lift up to 60,000 pounds of equipment.

The military fleet of nearly 1,000 Chinooks comprises multiple configurations with different types of mission-specific avionics, armor and equipment, including night vision, weather radar, infrared engine noise suppression and infrared countermeasures to ward off heat-seeking missiles.

About 450 Chinooks have been sold to other countries' militaries, according to Jane's All the World's Aircraft.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Aviation • Military • U.S. Navy
soundoff (173 Responses)
  1. viranka

    the problem is it was a NATO maintained chopper, enough said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 6, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles Vlodek

      And you know this from what experience? I have worked with servicemen teaching them how to repair helicopters. In a battlefield enviornement, they don't exactly have a manufacturing facility there to repair everything that goes wrong with them. Their job is to fix it and get it back into service as quickly as they can. People's lives are depending on whether or not that aircraft gets in the air. I have seen a lot of repairs that were done by the military. Some of them make me shake my head but the improvise the best way they can and not one of them has been so bad that it would cost anybody their lives. Some of them aren't exactly pretty but have some experience before you go shooting off about "NATO' and how they take care of their aircaft.

      August 6, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • FlyGuyTiliDie

      Viranka, you don't know what you're talking about. These were US helicopters maintained by Americans.

      August 6, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. RUFFNUTT

    cnn is beating this story like a dead work horse...

    August 6, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trenched

      31 US soldiers just died... is there something wrong with you?

      August 6, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thomas F

      Your a moron;a group of our youngsters were just killed, show some respect.

      August 6, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rolph

      Those "youngsters" were ZOG mercs.

      They joined up just rarin' to fight for USrael. There's no excuse for ignorance in this age of the 'net.

      No sympathy here at all.

      August 6, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • cput

      Rolph. You are an idiot.

      August 6, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Suzuki Nakamura

      He's a foreign propagandist who hates the US. Do not worry about these posts, they are our enemies, though they may claim to be from here.

      August 6, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mikee

      Come on, RUFFNUTT, you know it's not nice to talk about your sistermom like that.

      August 6, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lee Jackson

      Yes you are rught ,because those soldiers they DIE like that, they are not more than DEAD HORSE MEAT, Because YOU are the NOT one who DIE in that CRASH!!! AMERICA is GREAT!!

      August 6, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • HIKER

      uh...I would seriously have to question if this is RUFFNUTT ! are the trolls getting smarter!

      August 6, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • HIKER

      Yeah this one is a fake, I just saw the (deadliest) thread. look at that one and you'll there *is* a fakey RUFFNUTT.

      August 6, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • G.S.Hadley

      Rolph........i had no idea they were working for the family of a dead Albanian king.........it's amazing what one can learn from a troll.

      August 7, 2011 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  3. 47 Pilot

    Being that I have flown these aircraft for 30 years, I can tell you that they are one of the safest aircraft in the military and one of the first ones called in both war and peace. Remember, in any natural or manmade disaster, these (along with 53s and 60s) and some of the first ones to respond.

    Remberber those who give their lives yesterday so we can discuss these issues today. They are all heroes and my heart goes out to their family/ May they forever be remembered and rest in peace. Thank you my brothers.

    August 6, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trenched

      Absolutely agree

      August 6, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rolph

      Yep, they're fighting for our "freedom" to chat while our country is overrun by invaders from the South.

      Their vaunted marksmanship would be useful making the Rio Grande a death zone for "migrants." Yeah, that'll happen.

      August 6, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • cput

      Could not agree more. They are heros in the true sense of the word. My heart goes out to them and their families.

      August 6, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • deejay

      The Chinook was the love of my dads life. The first time he flew one he came home and said "THAT is the finest aircraft I have ever flown". He became a Chinook instructor pilot and loved teaching how to fly it. When it first came to Fort Rucker, there were people who said it would never last, and look, all these years later, it is still with us. I inherited my dads love of this aircraft and the loss of one touches me deeply. God Bless the American Military, the FINEST fighting forces in the world

      August 6, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Charles Vlodek

    I've been a quality control inspector for 32 years. While taking care of aircraft (from another manufacturer) along the east coast from florida to maryland I had the opportunity to speak with many service men. Almost without exception, they have told me that those birds have been flying since Vietnam, they shake like a roller coaster, leak oil like a sieve and even one member asked if there was some way I could blow the damn things up. They are amazed that our government still purchases them which is another gongressional "pet project" to keep people employed. Our entire congress works to keep jobs in their congressional district regardless of whether or not there is a better product on the market. I say, the blood of those brave servicemen is on their hands. God bless every one of them and their families. This is a tragedy that did not need to happen. Those birds should have been retired 10 years ago but we are still buying more of them. One more reason that our congress is plain messed up. Please remember this and all the other bills passed with tons of congressional pork when you vote. And for God's sake, please VOTE!

    August 6, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trenched

      They aren't using the same models they did in Vietnam, the modern Chinook is as able as any other US Helicopter. They aren't sure what caused the crash yet, it could be technical failure, but it could just as easily have been an RPG attack. Helicopters crash, all helicopters do, don't overreact and say the whole thing needs to be scrapped.

      August 6, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles Vlodek

      Trenched, I have first handedly witnessed the crash and deaths of one of our helicopters that was hovering on the flight field. I remember watching it just hover about one hundred feet above the ground and I was in awe that we made something that could do just that. In an instant, the crafts rotors seized and it fell to the ground. There was not one piece that was bigger than a trash can burning so I do understand completely well that every aircraft is constantly updated or rebuilt with the latest technology. My point is we are still flying hueys and chinooks which were first originated during the vietnam era. I don't know what your backround is, but I have used my real name and you cannot argue with me honestly that our government doesn't support their own pet projects and the budget is rife with pork now can you? I wouldn't care if my job was eliminated for a project that was better suited to protect our servicemen and women. They killed the comanche aircraft because tha apache basically was already capable of doing the same thing plus, we didn't have any adversaries that we needed comanche technology against. I'm just questioning whether or not we sent some of our bravest and most elite soilders to death in an aircraft that wasn't quite up to par. Who knows? Maybe it was hit by a rocket or maybe the same kind of trajedy that I witnessed befell that aircraft. I do know however, that sand and chinooks don't mix very well. The Isrealies could tell you that.

      August 6, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trenched

      I'm not sure what the point behind using the real name comment was, it tells me you live in Shelton, Connecticut, but no verification as to your actual experience. I'll trust you on that though. My experience is much less than yours, the previous commenter 47 Pilot is my father, so most of mine comes from growing up around still living and working with helicopters as part of the State Department, and I've never felt uncomfortable in a Chinook. I've known people that have died in almost every aircraft produced by man (mostly Russian aircraft), so do most people involved in that region right now. Also, it's been confirmed that the helicopter was attacked, it wasn't a technical failure. What's more, even if it were, helicopters crash, especially in sandy enviroments. Chinooks do, so do Black Hawks, so do Ospreys (god, especially Ospreys), just look at Operation Eagle Claw.

      August 6, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trenched

      Also, since you worked on a destroyer that was decomissioned in 1978, what experience could you then have with the modern workings of Chinooks? They've changed a lot since then, especially if this one was with the 160th, which if they were carrying Seals they probably were. They're state of the art equipment, only the general design is the same as they were in Vietnam.

      August 6, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles Vlodek

      Actually I live in Ansonia Ct, just one town over. I was the lead inspector for Sikorsky Aircraft for 32 years. I left there last March. I didn't want to mention where I worked or the name of the company because I didn't want anybody to think that I was supporting our aircraft in particular over anybody elses. I almost chuckled about your thoughts in going up in a chinook. I completely agree about the osprey. I hope to God that they really have gotten all of the kinks out of that aircraft. We both know that in testing it was a death machine. To be completely honest with you, every helicopter I've gone up in scared the c*** out of me. Perhaps that was because the pilots thought it was funny to do things that would make you want to puke just so the "manufacturer" could see how their aircraft performed. Your posts have been interesting to read as well as your dads'. I've never posted before on any subject but this one kind of hit close to home for me. My thoughts that prayers go out to the servicemen who were passengers and who were flying that aircraft. On that point, I surely hope that both of us can agree completely. Thanks for the debate.

      August 6, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles Vlodek

      P.S. I never said I worked on a destroyer. I've never been a member of the military. When I was turning 18 the draft ended in Vietnam and my parents insisted that I did not enlist in any branch of the military. My dad served on the USS Rush during the Korean conflict. I personally wanted to join the airforce and fly jets but that's another story in itself. 🙂

      August 6, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles Vlodek

      Trenched, I just read a CNN update that said insurgent had shot down the Chinook. That could have happened with ANY aircraft that flies with rotors. My heart goes out to those brave soilders who were trying to rescue others in a firefight. I apologize for any statements I made about the Chinook. It wouldn't have mattered what aircraft they were in. They are all heroes in my book.

      August 6, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trenched

      I concur, all our thoughts are with the families of those who died in this crash. Excellent debate, and good day.

      August 6, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • G.S.Hadley

      Trenched........i can't believe you actually tried to look Charlie up just because he may have used his real name and you didn't agree with him.........that is a good example why it might not be a good idea to be so forthcoming with our personal info in a forum where we might actually expose ourselves to whack jobs like you..........and the funniest bit about it is that you got your research all wrong and put it out there before you were sure of it...........man oh man, what a hoot.......was it some kind of effort to rattle him or even equally annoying, to show us how smart you think you are?

      August 7, 2011 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
    • ChuckV

      G.S. Thanks for your support but I'm the idiot who had no idea how to post and when it came out with my real name I said "Oh well" The Charles that he found in Shelton is my dad. I hope nobody bothers him since he is a proud vet and can barely get around at 80. That's the reason I said that I lived in Ansonia, if anybody wants to harass me then so be it. I never posted one thing that was not my actual experience. PS, I'm not an aeronautic engineer but there is a limit to how fast traditional helicopters can fly. The blades have to tilt forward for forward flight and I think that 200 mph is kind of pushing it since "there is a term for it but it eludes me now" basically, it will fall out of the sky.

      August 7, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  5. J.Glenn

    Why would anyone in thier right mine send this many Seals and special ops. on one Chopper into a hot zone without a forward escort. Bring all the troops home and get the hell out of afghanistan, pakistan and iraq. If they attempt to harm us. NUKEM.

    August 6, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trenched

      That's... possibly the dumbest thing I've ever read.

      August 6, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • StanG

      Oh no, the enemy is trying to harm us!

      They can't do that, we're Americans!

      August 6, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  6. saywhat

    31 Special Forces members died in this crash. Our hearts go out to their families.
    This is a sobering moment, we have had these sobering moments enough times during these senseless wars we are embroiled in, but we take no heed.
    We continue letting those in Washington who are making a spectacle of themselves for the world to see and contributing to the decline of America, get away with all this.
    Even after losing trillions of dollars & thousands of American lives we see no end to the 'debacles', in fact the ignorant self serving politicians are itching for more. Libya, Syria & Iran.

    We are now being termed as a bankrupt country, our sovereign debt has been downgraded by S&P & Chinese rating agencies. the political circus up on the Hill goes on. Instead of coming together to face the challenges & to promise mericans to get the country out of this mess, the bickering finger pointing continues.

    When will we sit up take notice & shout Enough? Call our troops home from Iraq 7 Afghanistan not tomorrow or day after but today. Stop military interventions every which place, reduce foreign military basis. Find immediate political & peaceful solutions to Israel-Palestine conflict, sit down directly with Iran & N.korea to rsolve impasse which would othwerwise result in our pushed into another military conflict with Iran which we can hardly afford.
    stop being pushed in directions harmful to American interests by our so called 'ally'.

    We have got to let our voices be heard. Enough already! time to get our act together& make these politicians work for America & Americans for a change.

    August 6, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles Vlodek

      Just to add a point, we've supported dictatorships all over the middle east. E.G. Irag, Saudia Arabia, Syria, Libya etc.
      What do you think about our poicy towards Cuba? I can't believe we haven't still kissed and made up.

      August 6, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • G.S.Hadley

      I agree with Charles.............I went to cuba not too long ago........it was beautiful.......U.S. policy is clearly bizarre sometimes.......are we really still afraid of communism?.........however, i doubt that the policy will change while any of the Castros are still with us.

      August 7, 2011 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
  7. FlyGuyTiliDie

    Most of the facts about the Chinook are just wrong in this article. The Honeywell engines are closer to 5,000 SHP when using contingency power. The 159 mph statement is also wrong; officially Vne is 170 Knots (195 mph). The cargo hooks are limited to 26,000 lbs for a single-point load on the center hook or 25,000 lbs for a tandem load using the fore and aft hook. There's a bunch of other garbage is this article as well.

    August 6, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. CDaeda

    The Chinook is a big lumbering helicopter easy to shoot down. A big slow target. A blind Afghan terrorists would not miss it. Transmissions and engines in military helicopters typically are mismatched which hurts reliability. Female pilots are often used. Bullets go right thru the fuselage to make hamburger out of anyone inside the helicopter. Slow take off and landing time frames. Much noise associated with the helicopter which lets terrorists know it is coming well in advance. An outdated machine with no defense against primitive weapons that can hit their mark. First shot brings down the helicopter typically.

    August 6, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ketrout

    This is just another reason why we need to bring our troops home! Such good men have to pay the ultimate price in a war that we have no business being there.

    BRING OUR TROOPS HOME NOW!!!!

    August 6, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. FlyGuyTiliDie

    Wow, I am just amazed at how ignorant (DUMB) some of the people posting comments are. To compare the Chinook that was shot down today (CH-47G) to that of the A and B models flown in Vietnam is like comparing today's Ford Mustang to one from the 70's. I just don't understand how people who know nothing about the aircraft come on here and start posting junk that isn't even close to being true. We have quality control inspectors saying how we are still flying the same legacy aircraft. We have another "expert" who thinks he knows about its take-off performance and mismatched transmissions and how that makes it vulnerable to to being shot down.

    August 6, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles Vlodek

      FlyGuy; With all due respect. In my posts I never said we were flying the same "legacy" aircraft. I admitted that they are constantly updating them with new technology. I said that it was an aircraft whose design went back to the Vietnam era. As I'm sure you probably know. The 53E aircraft went through stages where it was a 53D and so on. We stopped making a 53E and designs are on the table for a new 53 aircraft, with a completely different rotor head and blades and so on. I'm certainly not an expert on the engine thrust, lift capability on so on of a Chinook. It beats the heck out of me. I would be (an am) the first person to admit that I don't know everything, I just have an opinion like I'm sure that you do as well. If you wanted to debate with me on how accurate that opinion is, I would have been happy to have spoken to you but please don't lump me together with somebody who talks about how "inaccurate" the statements were about the Chinook. I couldn't debate with him if I wanted to because I just plain don't know. The only people that I would have made that generalization about is the people that don't care that we lost those brave service men. Those people are plain idiots and I don't take you as one of them.

      August 6, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • G.S.Hadley

      Do you actually know what model it was?..........or if it was properly supported?.........or if it was an RPG or a SAM-18, as if that mattered?........I said it before and I'll say it again.......100 feet long, 20 feet high.........10,000 pounds of young men PLUS their gear, ammo, loaded with fuel and whatever else they brought with them plus the aircraft armaments and possibly armor plate.......200 mph max? sure maybe empty.......not with all that.......and even it it could top end, it won't change direction lke an F-14.....and it wouldn't matter anyway against a properly operated SAM........especially if they were low and the shooter was high........like between mountains................I don't know about you but I'd rather be in a blackhawk.........or even better......a Pave Hawk.

      August 7, 2011 at 1:24 am | Report abuse |
  11. Cloud dancer

    It was SHOT DOWN to all the IDIOTS blaming mechanical problems. At least read the actual story about the crash before you impose your wisdom..or lack of wisdom!

    August 6, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jeff

    This is a dangerous helicopter with a horrible safty record.

    August 6, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. db

    Why not wait until the damage report comes out telling us what the cause of the downing of the aircraft really was, Then it will be time to make conversation about what killed that aircraft and the people inside it.

    August 6, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Clark

    I'm not in the military and I'm no expert but the Chinook seems like a pretty huge, lumbering target that would be pretty easy to knock down. I live in Vail, CO right down the road from the HAATS training center and see Chinooks and Blackhawks all the time practicing in the valley and the Chinooks are way louder and larger than the hawks. After this tragic incident and Operation Redwing where SEALS were also shot down in a Chinook it just seems to me like the military should alter their tactics or delivery vehicles. Why not send Apaches or Cobras in first to soften up the LZ for the Chinook or send a squadron of Blackhawks to carry all the troops? From an outsiders perspective it just seems with all of the resources the military has they would have a little more tact when inserting troops into a hostile area, especially our elite forces. If someone with experience has some insight, I'd like to hear it, I'm just curious about the whole thing. It's a horrible tragedy and these men as well as all other future, past, and present service members deserve our love and support for putting it all on the line for US!!! May they rest in peace.

    August 6, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles Vlodek

      Clark, your questions are quite valid. If they in fact had apaches leading the way, it's doubtful the insurgent would have fired and the apaches since their armorments would have wiped out whover was taking a pot shot at them. They would have in fact waited for the chinook that (to the best of my knowledge, please correct me if I'm wrong) don't have any offensive capabilities unlike a battle fitted blackhawk that carrier an array of missals and I'm sure has rapid fire machine guns fitted to it.
      The blackhawk cannot carry that many service members into combat so you would probably (again I'm assuming because each one is different) need at least 3 to carry two dozen soilders into combat. The bottom line, is we lost
      two dozen of our finest service men and I'm sure there will be an investigation into exactly the questions that you have asked. I'm only answering your questions to the best of my ability. The fact that any of this happened makes me sick to my stomach. God bless the brave servicemen who laid down their lives for you and me and God bless their families as well.

      August 6, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Craig

      Only the command and control/mission commander would be able to answer that. Makes sense but maybe there was a reason there was not any.

      August 7, 2011 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
  15. saywhat

    MSNBC confirms that the copter was downed by Talibans & which also carried Navy Seals from the div which killed Osama Bin Laden. Though none of those killed in this crash were involved in that op.

    @ Charles Vlodek
    our policy of boycott & sanctions on Cuba havn't worked. Just like our failed policies in the M.East. But we refuse to learn.
    Middle East is no longer under our sphere of influence, barring a few rulers the people have turned hostile to us. This region which is vital to our near term & long term strategic, economic & geo-political goes slipped away from our grasp due to our lopsided foreign policy tilted illegitimately & immorally towards the regime ( not the people) in Israel.

    August 6, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles Vlodek

      I couldn't agree with you more and I mean that sincerly.

      August 6, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
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