Boeing employees observe the company's newest aircraft, the MH-47G Chinook helicopter, during the aircraft's rollout ceremony May 6 at Ridley Park, Pa. The MH-47G is an updated version of older MH-series Chinook airframes and will be flown exclusively by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne). (Photo by Walter Sokalski, USASOC PAO)
USASOC unveils new modified Chinook helicopter By Kelly Tyler 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) RIDLEY PARK, Pa. (USASOC News Service, May 7, 2004) — Army special operations forces received their first MH-47G Chinook helicopter during a rollout ceremony at aircraft manufacturer Boeing’s compound here May 6. The military’s newest rotary-wing airframe, updated and better equipped than its Chinook predecessors, will be flown exclusively by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), headquartered at Fort Campbell, Ky. To kick off the event, an older MH-47D model flew directly over the thousands of Boeing employees who had gathered to watch the ceremony. Landing nearby, the Chinook discharged its cargo of three special operations Soldiers and a Ground Mobility Vehicle, which rolled slowly across the flight ramp as the door to a hangar opened and the new brand-new MH-47G was rolled out. Patrick Shanahan, vice president and general manager for Boeing Rotorcraft Systems, then handed the first set of symbolic “keys” to the modified aircraft to Chief Warrant Officer Andrew Sentiff and Staff Sgt. Michael Luna, both of the 160th SOAR. “All of us at Boeing are extremely proud of the Chinook and its record of service with the U.S. Army, Army special operations and our allies around the world for more than four decades,” Shanahan said. “The Chinook’s unique capabilities show clearly why the Chinook is and will continue to be a central war-fighting asset for your armed forces.” The MH-47 is more than just an airframe, Shanahan said. “The design and manufacturing of this aircraft (have) been a labor of love and a model of working together,” he said. “Teamwork has characterized our program from the start.” Lt. Gen. Philip R. Kensinger Jr., commander of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., also spoke to the crowd. “Not only have we all gotten a personal introduction to our ‘work horse,’ but we have also had the opportunity to shake hands with everyone who helped make this possible,” Kensinger noted. Kensinger reminded those gathered – civilian and military – that the aircraft itself is secondary. “As magnificent as this aircraft is, it is only as good as the people who design it, build it, fly it, and support it,” Kensinger said. Kensinger told the gathered Boeing workers that anyone who contributed to the construction of the aircraft was also contributing to victory in the Global War on Terrorism. “The equipment (the 160th SOAR flies) is what gets the boots on the ground to fight the Global War on Terrorism,” Kensinger said. “It is also the equipment that gets them back safely to their families.” The event was more than just a presentation of USASOC and Boeing’s newest collaboration. It also gave the Boeing workers a chance to understand the role of the MH-series aircraft, and it allowed those workers to speak directly to Soldiers who have been affected by the capabilities of the MH-47. Workers and guests checked out both the older “D” model and the newest “G” model following the ceremony, speaking with aviation crew members as well as members of a Special Forces operational detachment. “This is a great bunch of guys,” said John Williams, flight engineer for Boeing. “We want them to be well-protected up there,” he said. “I feel better knowing these guys have the best equipment there is.” The MH-47G has capabilities not found on any other rotor-wing aircraft in the world. Its specialized mission equipment includes: · Multi-mode radar that permits terrain following and terrain avoidance in all climatic conditions · A Common Avionics Architecture System-equipped cockpit that enhances joint operability and pilot situational awareness · Next generation forward-looking infrared, or FLIR · M-134 Gatling “miniguns” and M-240D machine guns for increased defensive firepower · Advanced, integrated aircraft survivability equipment · Oversized main fuel tanks The Army has approved the purchase of 61 MH-47G airframes. Procurement and distribution will continue through fiscal 2011.
160th: Best Part Of New G Model Chinook Is Re-Set Airframe MeterPhiladelphia, Pa., - The US Army's Brig Gen Howard Yellen says biggest advantage of the 160th SOAR's new CH-47G Chinook variant is, in fact , its new zero time structural life. 'We put a lot of strain on these machines in the course of our business. Going to the G model re-sets the meter and believe me it's going to be appreciated.' 'Older' MH-47Es are doing fine in the special ops world of long-range, highly flexible infil/exfil missions, but Yellen, deputy commanding general of US Army Special Operations Command says he worries about airframe fatigue. The G model - unveiled in ceremonies here today - is also the culmination 'of a lot of years' of integrated avionics development.'That's the other story about this bird,' he told rotorhub, 'the way we now have one hundred percent reliable low-level terrain following.' Yellen likened it to hands-off flight down Philadelphia's Broad Street at 30 feet, avoiding the buildings, 'it's that accurate.' But he said the trail had been a long one. 'We started out way back when we got the MH-47E, and it's taken that long, but here we are and I thank the community for giving us this capabilty.' G models will go on the 160th's ramps in a couple of years. Twenty four are under contract, and initially will be constucted from re-habiliated MH-47Ds - which do not experience the same airframe stresses. But Boeing is understood to shortly be announcing it plans to build completely new airframes for the G and other future Chinook models, a move that is more economical.Yellen said special ops aviators active in both Afghanistan and Iraq are generally 'performing great, but we are putting a lot of pressure on the flight leads, something we have to watch out for.' 160th crews generally rotate every 60 days, and Yellen said there are enough crews in the pipeline to cover the high workload demand. 'This is a remarkable flying story and I wish I could tell you more,' he said. 'We are doing some extraordinary things with our aircraft. It has changed the aviator type in the 160th, in fact. It is producing a new generation of aircrew, so different has this been for everyone.'Yellen, once a popular commander of the 160th, now works closely with civilian John Shipley, Gen Brown and ultimately Gen Peter Schoomaker, chief of staff in forging aviation special ops policy. Asked about stories circulating in Washington that a 'Shipley cabal' is moving to choke off Apache development in favor of armed Black Hawks, Yellen says it's a misrepresented argument. 'We went to the aviation task force and laid out some things. What was new is that we presented Black Hawk as having a number of specific 'bolt on' type capabilities. 'One of these was the type of things the DAP (Direct Action Penetrator) version (miniguns and .50 cal) does in the armed escort role. 'There are certainly some of the things an attack helicopter does that the DAP can also do. But it's not true anyone here is suggesting the attack helicopters go away. Not true at all.' The 160th does not have Apache attack helicopters attached. Instead, the DAP is used to accompany aircraft like the Chinook on missions, where in the nature of things it can get involved in such diverse operations as screening and attacking spontaneous targets -cross-overs for the normal role of the attack helicopter.The issue may be more political than factual, an industry observer said, 'but neverthless gets to the heart of what happens when policy gets over-associated with a personality, in this case John Shipley.' He said Shipley has performed excellently in terms of procuring aircraft for the special ops mission, but is now also linked with the Comanche cancellation. (Shipley, AMCOM director of special projects led the hit team which cancelled the programme.) 'What's happening now is that every time he says something, people wonder if it's going to turn into policy.' A check with Boeing Mesa showed there were no 'raids' actual or planned on Apache Block III funding at the present time.