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U.S. Army Special Operations to receive nine more MH-47G Chinooks from Boeing

The U.S. Department of Defense and Boeing announced on August 12 a contract award for a further nine MH-47G Block II Chinooks for a cost of around US$265 million. The helicopters will be built at Boeing’s Philadelphia plant. The specialist variant will serve exclusively with the U.S. Army’s Special Operations Aviation Command (USASOAC). A statement released by the Department of Defense (DoD) stated: “The Boeing Company, Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, was awarded a US$265,022,000 firm-fixed-price, delivery order contract modification (P00001) to contract H92241-19-F-0091 for the procurement of nine MH-47G Chinook aircraft in support of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).”

The helicopter manufacturer is now on contract for 24 of the next-generation Chinooks.

The MH-47G Block II Chinook features an improved structure and weight reduction initiatives such as new lighter-weight fuel tanks that increase performance and efficiency, which is critical for missions behind enemy lines.The new MH-47Gs will give the Army significantly more capability for extremely challenging missions, according to a company news release.

“The G-Model is a critical asset for the Army, our nation, and the defense industrial base,” said Andy Builta, vice president and H-47 program manager. “We’re honored that the Army’s special operators trust us to deliver it.”

In 2019, U.S. Special Operations Command has contracted Boeing to provide six re-worked and one new build MH-47G.The 160th Special Operations Regiment (Airborne), known as the ‘Night Stalkers’ has a requirement for 61 MH-47Gs. The MH-47G modernisation program is aimed at delivering a mix of remanufactured and new build examples to the USASOAC.

The MH-47G incorporates a monolithic, machine-framed fuselage integrating long-range fuel tanks, and an extendable refuelling probe to receive fuel mid-air from fixed-wing tankers. The helicopter also possesses advanced cargo-handling capabilities.

The airframe houses a rear ramp for loading/unloading of troops, supplies and vehicles. The port side of the fuselage features a gunner’s window/firing port. The helicopter offers seating for five crew, including two pilots and three crew-chiefs or aerial gunners.The helicopter can be fitted with special operations equipment such as a fast rope insertion extraction system (FRIES), a special patrol insertion and extraction system (SPIES), a rope ladder, an electrically powered rescue hoist and a personnel location system (PLS).

The fuselage of the MH-47G measures 15.9m-long and 4.8m-wide. The overall length of the helicopter with unfolded rotors is 30.18m. It has a maximum gross weight of 24,494kg and can transport a useful load of 11,340kg.

The Chinook helicopter variant features a fully integrated digital cockpit management system. The cockpit seats a pilot and a co-pilot in a side-by-side arrangement. The night vision goggle-compatible glass digital cockpit features five liquid crystal multi-function displays (MFDs) and two control display units (CDUs).

The integrated digital common avionics architecture system (CAAS) of the cockpit allows for the integration of global communications and navigation systems, including a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) and a multi-mode radar. The FLIR, along with an electro-optical camera mounted below the chin, enables low-level flights in low-visibility and adverse weather conditions.

The cockpit also houses a digital moving map display, dual digital data buses, an inertial doppler navigational system, an automatic target hand-off system, a GPS receiver and a Rockwell Collins low-frequency automatic direction finder.

The onboard communication systems include a high-frequency (HF) radio, a single-channel ground and airborne radio system, four ultrahigh-frequency (UHF)/very high-frequency (VHF) radios, and a blue force tracking system, an IFF transponder and a digital inter-communication system (DICS).The MH-47G can be armed with two M134 electrically operated, air-cooled miniguns and two M240 machine guns mounted on either side of the fuselage at the forward and rear sections.

During the ധąɾ on Terror, early variants of the MH-47 saw extensive combat on deep-penetration strike raids across Iraq and Afghanistan along with a number of other countries, that have yet to be disclosed by the DoD.