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. HIKER

    @ George Patton...George F-ING bush started this S-H-I-T ...hard for Obama to end it with all the powers is Washington!

    August 6, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |

      We could have gotten out of this many times, but building a big war machine was good for the economy. But the cost is to high: 4000+ members of our military.

      Enough is enough!

      August 6, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. PhilG.

    The Chinook is a great chopper,just really big and really slow and a great big target in the sky.

    That's why you have to be very very careful when you deploy it in hostile areas.

    It's can't dodge anything fired at it.

    August 6, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Axman

      It's not slow. It's the fastest helicopter in the us army, if only the people posting on here knew anything about the military before they open their mouths. There are reasons the chinook is used over the Blackhawk in Afghanistan.

      August 6, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • PhilG.

      Well,that's the info I had from information over the years and a friend whose dad flew one in Vietnam whose copilot had his face blown off right next to him.

      That's old info and I apparently I am wrong so I apologize.

      August 6, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • JL

      I've deployed to Afhganistan and ridden in a Chinook several times. I watched it haul a huge (I think it was a Howitzer) gun tube in its cargo, along with about 20 other soldiers, to a remote hillside. I think it's an awesome machine, very powerful – usually the more power a machine has the less nimble it is. I don't appreciate it being called "lumbering" by NPR's Tom Bowman. MIght be reading too much into it, but that's a pretty condescending adjective. I've seen him in theatre, it's amazing he ever stepped on to such a "lumbering" bird to get to his story to make his $$$$. May those seals, soldiers, piltos and brave interpreter rest in pace. I am speaking for myself as a citizen with this commentary.

      August 6, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • PingPong

      The problem with putting up to 55 guys in a chopper is that you make one big target out of it. They should reconsider flying a bunch of SpecOps guys all in one vehicle into a hot LZ like that, for precisely the reason they just lost an entire platoon of SEALs. It takes a very long time to train guys like this. Sure, you risk more choppers and pilots if you split them up, but you also potentially cut the losses. You can always get another chopper. As far as I know, it's the largest loss of Special Forces in one battle that I've ever heard of.

      August 6, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • G.S.Hadley

      Don't back down PhilG........axman is completely wrong.......the chinook is most certainly NOT the "fastest" helicopter in anyone's is 100 feet long and 20 feet high and when you fill it with 10,000 lbs of men plus their gear and ammunition and lumbers, believe me! well, it is my day, we did break up our units so we had more of a chance of getting where we were question is, how much support did they have?........were there any of those hot-shot apaches or even some blackhawks (which are definitely more heavily armed) with them?......or were they out there all by themselves...........Axman the blowhard needs to wikipedia-up or take a trip to Jane's a bit before he ranks a good kid like you.

      August 6, 2011 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. HIKER

    Yeah I have to agree with Axman on this one should sound off on a subject they have *NO* knowledge of.

    August 6, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • G.S.Hadley

      Hiker............what are you?.......are you the little guy who stands in the back and yells "yeah, you can take 'em big man!"

      August 6, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Air Assualt

    Maximum lift capacity of the Chinook is 26,000 lbs, not 60,000 lbs. The front hook is rated at 17k, the rear is 17k, and the middle hook is 26k, it cant carry cargo on all three hooks for a combination of 60k.

    August 6, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. CH-47FI

    This is what happens when people use their emotions rather than their brains to discuss a topic. I've read alot of nonsense so far from people who are clueless about the Special Operations and the way they do business. Going into hot LZs is what the 160th folks do. They are the taxi drivers and the soldiers in the back are the customers. When the mission commander says to the pilot as he sits next to him in the jump seat "Go" then that's just what the pilots do, they GO. The MH-47G helicopter is a pretty amazing piece of machinery and AxMan is right, it's the fastest and, when not loaded and weighed down, it's the most manueverable.
    I have a little over 1500 hours in the CH-47D and I know the aircraft intimatley and can tell you that it is the most complicated helicopter that I have ever seen. That said, with everything covered up during flight; drive shafting, transmissions and engines it is impossible to see exactly the right place to hit to bring it down with small arms. With a difficult to aim RPG I'd say it would be a lucky hit that did the job of bringing the helicopter down.
    My prayers tonight are with the men who made the ultimate sarcifice and their families. The world is less now that they are gone.
    Remeber, even though I was never a member of the 160th

    August 6, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob Boise

      The problem, just as in Kosovo, if the enemy is above you when you are flying through a narrow value, you are pretty much toast; if it is a covert operation, you cannot have a gunship clear a space for the Chinook to fly through. And some gung ho Commanders aren't as careful with operations as others..

      August 6, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles Vlodek

      CH47I, I have never heard this about this helicopter. All I relayed was my experiences with other memember of a different helicopter squadren. The bottom line is we lost over a dozen of our bravest most trained servicement (and women)
      That emotion was what was driving any of my comments. I'm just praying for all of them and wish to drop any of my
      comments about the aircraft. My heart goes out to all of their families and I wish I had the complete knowledge of both of the aircraft; but I do notl
      Sometimes things are unavoidable and there is no way I can dispute somebody who has actually fied them. I'am through debating the aircraft and will spend the rest of my night praying for them and their families.
      Good nite and thank you for your input.

      August 6, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bucky

    The CH-47 is definately a workhorse. I flew on them many times while in the Army @ Ft. Campbell, Ky. between 1984 and 1987. I was a medic and these were utilized as huge air ambulances while having field training exercises. They are slow and lumbering though. Doesn't matter how elite or trained an individual is, if you come under fire, you are vulnerable. Sad day...

    August 6, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob Boise

      new versions are slow. In Afghanistan they can outfly the Apaches, but are a big target, as many have said, and have few defenses. Even the Osprey are not armed to speak of.

      August 6, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jim456

    Whatever. The Chinook is rock old, overdue to be replaced and a big target in the air. Not very safe in my opinion. But does not help either to get the soldiers back

    August 6, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bob Boise

    Chinook can hit 180 mph flies faster than the Apache escort choppers. There was supposed to be a new heavy lift chopper, but it was delayed to 2035 and beyond. Chinooks cannot defend against RPGs and missiles. You need to have a squad of attack helicopters run shotgun for it.

    August 6, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bob Boise

    It is also the only chopper that has enough lift to operate at the high elevations required by mountain warfare. Remember when a chopper went down on Mt Hood, it took a Chinook from Pendleton NG Aviation F. to retrieve it.

    August 6, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Davin

    I am sure it is amazingly adventurous and exciting to be a SEAL–until your helicopter crashes. The military always seems like a fool's mission to me.

    August 6, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe


      You are an idiot!

      You make me ill.

      I wish folks had to have a reasonable IQ prior to speaking or posting.

      August 6, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marine's Son

      Their dedication to the "fool's mission" throughout the decades has given you the freedom you have today. You make me sick. They don't do it for the "excitement". The sacrifice of thousands to give you freedom apparently wasn't taught to you. Disgraceful.

      August 6, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ken

      Davin it is only a "Fools Mission" to fools. Their constant ability to do their job and even give there life on some occasions is what makes it so easy for you to sleep at night without worry about waking up to a Chinese weapon pointed at you. It is a pity that our military must also protect the fools among us but they are not paid to discrimminate so fools are included under their umbralla of protection. Be thankful Davin.

      August 6, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lyndsie Graham

      @Marine's Son. Yours is one of the most idiotic comments I've seen here yet! This stupid war has absolutely nothing to do with any of our rights or freedoms and anybody with half a brain would know it. It's all about money grubbing and career promoting!!!

      August 7, 2011 at 3:23 am | Report abuse |
  11. KennyG

    Scary vehicle, a piece of junk. I rode them many times in Korea back in 1980 or so, and had to cope with transmission oil leaking and settling in channels in the floor. Transmission goes out and the blades don't work right. They ride like a boat; only place comfortable and where you don't get sea sick is in the middle. They should get rid of this junk.

    August 6, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Craig

      Glad you could provide everyone with your technical expertise and insight from 31 years ago.

      August 7, 2011 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
  12. Nancy

    So sad we lost so many Seal's. We also lost the Pilot and many Crew Chief's on that Chinook. May they Rest In Peace..

    August 6, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DE

    Hey Charles V.
    For a part you are some what correct. The last Hueys flying for the Army are at Fort Irwin and they sit on the ground most of the time. My son a HAwk pilot, 2 deployments to Afghanistan, would carry 10+ special ops plus the crew of 4. The crew chiefs manned defensive machine guns. A few Taliban discovered the power of these machine guns.

    Apaches, can but do not always protect and clean out the Taliban. My son was on a mission with two Chinooks, two Apaches, two Warriors plus two Hawks. Just after the Chinooks unloaded and took off the Taliban fired a surface-to-air missile into the back on one of the Chinooks. My son was landing just as the Chinook took off. The pilot was a flight school classmate of my son.

    August 6, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles Vlodek

      Thanks DE, Whenever I post I don't want it to be B.S. And if somehow I do, I wish people would call me out on it; then I would learn something I did't know. I swear that I don't have Janes aviation knowledge of the capablities of every aircraft.
      After 32 years of working with helicopters, I only know my own and what fellow servicemen have told me about others.
      They themeslves may have been biased because they were memebers of a different helicopter squadren. I am open minded to that possility and that's why I joined this discussion.
      All I know about the chinook was what was told to me, I have never flied in one ( but to honest flying in blackhawks and
      53 was all I nenned to experience) I just regret their loss of life and will not stop praying for them.

      August 6, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Air Force Gay Command

    All of the US equipment is obsolete. The US needs everything new. All of the air force aircraft, the navy's ships and aircraft carriers and all weapons and missiles are crap compared with Israel's. They update everything everyday, here in the US you have to wait 30 years, like the shuttle. The only concern now in the military is the gay sh!t. For that they update soon, so now the concern is how their hair or what color of underwear sorry panties the soldiers use. Those killed in the chopper were gays so don't worry America, we are safe with them guarding our asses or fukkin them.

    August 6, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Davis

    The article references "chinooks" have been used for decades but I am willing to bet that particular one has been used for decades!

    August 6, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
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