Why India doesn't have SOCOM

USSOCOM receives first MH-47G Block II Chinook

Boeing announced on September 1 that it would deliver the first MH-47G Block II Chinook to the U.S. on time. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has delivered. Another 14 machines are to follow by 2022. With the first MH-47G Block II Chinook, USSOCOM introduces the latest generation of transport helicopters for special forces. This introduces new technologies and improves performance. The MH-47G Block II is the Special Operation Forces (SOF) variant of the CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter. The machines are manufactured at the Boeing plant in Pennsylvania, where the Chinook, the V-22 Osprey and the MH-139A Gray Wolf are also produced.

"This delivery is an important step in the Chinook program," said Andy Builta, Vice President and CH-47 Program Manager. "With the new Chinook, the US special forces will receive significantly more skills for their extremely challenging missions and will be able to carry out these missions successfully on the future battlefield," continues Builta.

The USSOCOM had just signed a $ 265 million procurement contract for nine additional MH-47G Block II Chinooks in July 2020, S&T reported. The first series machines from this contract are expected to start running in 2023. The MH-47G manufacturer Boeing thus has a total of three current contracts for the production and delivery of a total of 24 MH-47G Block II to the USSOCOM. It is expected that this number will increase to 69 pieces.

In many nations, the Boeing CH-47 Chinook is the workhorse and backbone for transporting special forces to the respective areas of operation. More than 1,500 CH-47s fly in over 20 countries worldwide. These include the USA, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Greece, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Thailand, Turkey, India and Egypt.

Boeing MH-47G

The Boeing MH-47G Chinook is the special forces variant of the widespread CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter. The first MH-47G was delivered to the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) in May 2004. The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) of the U.S. Army has an operational requirement of over 60 machines of this type. It is a variant that stands out from the normal Chinook machines through special extensions and systems. These include the ability to refuel in the air, an additional window for a gunner and various self-protection systems - Common Missile Warning System (CMWS), an integrated jammer, a laser warning device and XM216 flares.

The helicopter can also be equipped with special operations equipment such as the Fast Rope Insertion Extraction System (FRIES), a Special Patrol Insertion and Extraction System (SPIES), a rope ladder, an electrically operated rescue winch and a Personnel Location System (PLS). Thanks to the additional SOF systems, the MH-47 machines weigh significantly more - around 2,000 pounds (approx. 900 kg) - than the standard CH-47 machines of the U.S. Army.

Block II

Block II is a product improvement of the Boeing H-47. This should include new rotor blades, improved gearboxes, non-segmented tanks and an increase in the payload (approx. 1.8 t) and range.

Before the machine that has now been delivered, Boeing has only manufactured three test and development machines. The company announced the successful maiden flight of the H-47 Chinook Block II with the new and improved rotor blades (Advanced Chinook Rotor Blade - ACRB) on January 16, 2020. The novel rotor blades made of composite materials were originally developed for the reconnaissance helicopter RH-66 Comanche, which, however, never went into series production. In March 2019, the successful maiden flight of the H-47 Block II - at that time still with the standard rotor blades - was carried out. Boeing has not released any further details about the current test, apart from the fact that the new ACRB will give the helicopter an additional lift of 771 kg. The original planning for the Block II program was based on 680 kg (at approx. 1,200 m altitude and 35 ° C outside temperature while hovering).

ACRB is part of a broader Block II upgrade for the H-47 Chinook that aims to restore the carrying capacity that has been lost over the years, e.g. because additional mission equipment has been added. In addition to the new rotor blades with advanced geometry and a new asymmetrical airfoil profile, Block II contains a new drive system that improves power transmission to the rotor blades and generates up to nine percent more torque. Also a single-cell fuel tank on each side (the previous three fuel cells in each landing gear nacelle are merged into one large cell; the elimination of the equipment for transferring fuel between the cells saves approx. 90 kg in weight and slightly increases the fuel capacity), electrical system improvements as well as further, as yet unspecified modifications to the airframe will contribute to increasing the Chinook's performance.

André Forkert