The RCAF’s new CH-147F Chinook fleet has a number of advanced features: a modernized airframe, long-range fuel system, upgraded electrical system, and an enhanced fully integrated common avionics architecture system cockpit, with digital automatic flight control system. Boeing Photo.
If all goes according to plan – and there’s no really no need to doubt it, given Boeing’s delivery record – the distinctive tandem-rotor slap of Canada’s newest generation of Chinook helicopters will echo through the forested Ottawa River Valley next summer. The first of the new CH-147F medium-to-heavy-lift helicopters is expected in June at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, Ont., a 140-kilometre flight from National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa. It will be almost a year to the day since the aircraft rolled off the production line at Ridley Park, Pa., and was shipped to Mesa, Ariz., for flight testing and evaluation. The second helicopter was completed in late September, and is being put through its paces at U.S. Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. The new Chinooks are expected to arrive at the rate of about one a month to a resurrected 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron. Its 400 military personnel will be under the operational command of 1 Wing at CFB Kingston, Ont., which is tasked with providing combat-ready support to the Canadian Army. The new squadron’s first commanding officer is LCol Duart Townsend, the last Chinook pilot to be trained as part of the previous 450 Squadron before it was disbanded in 1998. CFB Petawawa will see various infrastructure projects completed to accommodate the Chinooks. This includes new hangars that will incorporate training, maintenance, operational storage, and logistics. There also will be a new ramp, fuelling facility and aircraft parking apron. “Petawawa was chosen because it provides the best support to army and special operations forces, many of which are collocated there, while minimizing the associated infrastructure costs for the new fleet,” said Gen Walt Natynczyk, who recently retired as Chief of the Defence Staff. “From this location, the Chinooks will maintain a high-readiness posture for rapid deployment.” The CH-147F Chinook is the latest iteration of a proven platform dating from the early 1960s. Designed and initially built by Boeing Vertol (but now produced by Boeing Rotorcraft Systems), some 1,200 Chinooks have now been sold to 18 countries, the largest orders coming from the U.S. Army and the Royal Air Force. Its signature counter-rotating rotors (also seen on the venerable Boeing Vertol CH-113 Labrador, which eventually became the backbone of RCAF search-and-rescue operations) eliminate the need for the anti-torque vertical tail rotor found on most other rotorcraft, allowing all power to be used for lift and thrust. The ability to adjust lift in either rotor makes the Chinook less sensitive to centre-of-gravity shifts, critical for cargo slinging. And if one engine fails, the transmission linkage is such that the other can drive both rotors. The Chinook’s name, by the way, has nothing to do with its massive rotor downwash, which might evoke the winds that storm through the Rockies. Rather, it was named for one of the native peoples of the Pacific Northwest. Boeing recently marked the 50th anniversary of the first Chinook delivery, as it neared completion of a $130-million renovation of its cavernous Ridley Park facility. “The Chinook has served as the backbone of U.S. Army aviation since the Vietnam era, revolutionizing how we move troops and supplies in combat, and saving lives and delivering aid in times of need,” said Col Bob Marion, who manages the U.S. Army cargo helicopter program. “The latest F-model has ushered in a new era of heavy-lift capability for the U.S. Army. With continued technology insertions, I fully expect that 50 years from now there will be a centennial celebration for Chinooks still in service.” More than 800 remain in operation worldwide, and Leanne Caret, Boeing vice-president for vertical lift and H-47 programs, points out that the Chinook is the company’s longest continuous program. “It’s in greater demand today than ever before,” she said. “Chinooks are being delivered on schedule and operating at a higher rate than any time in history, thanks to our team’s innovation, efficiency, and focus on meeting our customers’ needs.” The RCAF has had Chinooks in its rotary fleet on-and-off since the early 1970s, when it took delivery of eight C models. Those remained in service until 1991, when they were essentially upgraded to D specifications and sold to the Royal Netherlands Air Force, as part of sweeping budget cuts by the Progressive Conservative government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Canada’s commitment to a third generation of Chinooks was first announced by Defence Minister Peter MacKay in June 2006, as a key element of the five-month-old Conservative government’s Canada First Defence Strategy (CFDS). That set out a multi-billion-dollar agenda for major replacement of air and naval forces. Two months later, MacKay and Industry Minister Tony Clement – who now as Treasury Board president is overseeing the latest round of budget cuts, which include a review of the CFDS – confirmed that The Boeing Company had been awarded a contract worth approximately $1.2 billion for 15 CH-147F aircraft, as well as a 20-year in-service support and maintenance contract worth some $2.2 billion. “These helicopters are key to keeping Canadians safe and secure by giving our military a robust ability to operate in remote and isolated areas and respond to disasters or missions both at home and abroad,” MacKay enthused. DND says that while the new Canadian Fs are essentially OTS, they differ from the basic Boeing platform in three key areas: larger fuel tanks will double their range and endurance; a more comprehensive defensive suite has been installed; and, an improved electrical system will support the added requirements of the defensive suite and other aircraft systems. With a heavy-lift capability of up to 40 personnel or 11,363 kilograms of cargo, they will be able to deploy independently, including to the High Arctic. The operating range is increased to a basic 609 kilometres, with a mission radius of 370.4 kilometres. The basic F features airframe alterations to reduce vibration, and there are other structural enhancements to the cabin, aft section and rear ramp, as well as to the cockpit. The latter features a Rockwell Collins digital suite with a common avionics architecture system that includes five multi-function displays, a moving map display, a BAE Systems digital advanced flight control system, and a data transfer system for storing preflight and mission data. The more powerful Honeywell T55-GA-714A engines are fitted with full authority digital engine control and generate 4,733 shaft horsepower, or more than twice the power of earlier Chinooks’ engines. In addition to giving the RCAF highly-enhanced operational capabilities, the Chinook contract is expected to bolster local economies by generating an estimated 5,500 jobs directly and up to 15,000 others indirectly. The government’s Industrial and Regional Benefits policy means that Boeing is committed to reinvesting the full contractual amount into the Canadian economy and several companies are already benefitting. Source: skiesmagazine, Ken Pole
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