Rotor & Wing columnist Giovanni di Briganti argues this week the CH-47 is “unsuited for the combat search and rescue mission”, citing the Oxford coroner’s report in October that blamed the Chinook’s downwash for indirectly killing a paratrooper waiting to be rescued in a minefield. An excerpt:
In this instance, the downwash from an RAF Chinook attempting toland dislodged rocks which, in turn, detonated other mines. One of themkilled Cpl Wright.
The second failing is that the Chinook had to land because it wasnot fitted with a rescue hoist, and so could not pull out the injuredsoldiers while hovering.
The third failing is that no other available British helicopter wasfitted with a rescue hoist. The British forces’ shortfall in helicoptersupport is well-documented, but it is in instances such as this thatthe full consequences of that shortfall are felt.
I’ve been on the receiving end of the Chinook’s downwash a few times, and I can vouch for its power. Of course, one might question whether the downwash from any of the CH-47′s competitors would have produced the same result in that situation. The real problem may have been this particular Chinook’s lack of a hoist — and not the rotor downwash.