The MH-47 Chinook and its “E,” “D” and “G” variants are the primary heavy lift transport helicopters for the U.S. Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. The MH-47 differs from its CH-47 sister model with its incorporation of combat systems designed to make the helicopter more survivable on missions deep in enemy territory and during nighttime, low-level flight.
The MH-47 also has in-flight refueling capability for long-range insertions. The helicopter can be used for parachute insertion, fast rope insertion and water insertion of special operations troops. In 1995 Boeing completed delivery of a single MH-47E prototype and 25 production aircraft to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), based at Fort Campbell, Ky. This fleet has operated around the world and conducted combat missions in every climate and condition. The aircraft has excelled in high altitude operations as conducted in combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The MH-47G builds on the MH- 47E capabilities with the addition of the CAAS cockpit and enhanced aircraft survivability equipment. With Chinook fleet growth, the 160th SOAR will add a Chinook battalion and expand its operational capabilities.
The MH-47G’s fully integrated digital Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) permits global communications and navigation. CAAS is among the most advanced U.S. Army helicopter systems. CAAS includes integrated forward-looking infrared (FLIR) and multimode radar for nap-of-the-earth and low-level flight operations in conditions of extremely poor visibility and adverse weather. Today’s MH-47Gs contain a fully integrated digital cockpit management system, long-range fuel tanks and advanced cargo-handling capabilities that complement the aircraft’s mission performance and handling characteristics.
The MH-47G combines many proven Chinook systems and features. Notable among these are fuel tanks providing twice the capacity of the CH-47F and an in-flight refueling system. MH-47Gs are remanufactured on the common MH-47G/CH-47F production line. The Chinook has been in U.S. Army service since 1962, and the current CH-47F/MH- 47G modernization programs, which includes a mix of remanufactured and new aircraft, will ensure this tandem rotor helicopter remains in the Army fleet at least through the 2030s. It is conceivable that Chinooks will be Army Aviation assets for a century or more.