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HeliTorque :: View topic - Canadian Delta Chinooks pave way for Foxtrot buy
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Canadian Delta Chinooks pave way for Foxtrot buy
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PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 8:38 am    Post subject: Canadian Delta Chinooks pave way for Foxtrot buy Reply with quote

Canadian Delta Chinooks pave way for Foxtrot buy

May 27, 2011

Experience garnered from Canada's urgent buy of Chinooks for use in Afghanistan is helping to pave the way for the country's CH-147F purchase.

For nearly three decades, the Canadians have been an 'on and off' user of Boeing's heavylift helicopter.

The armed forces had previously operated Chinooks up until 1992 when the type was retired and the aircraft were sold to the Netherlands.

Then in 2008, as the country planned for new operations in Afghanistan, Canada purchased six CH-47D Chinooks from the US Army for use in the transport role under the Interim Medium-Lift Capability (IMLC) project.

Today these aircraft are being operated by Task Force Freedom, the Canadian helicopter force in Afghanistan, and since they have been introduced, Ottawa has ordered 15 new Chinooks as part of a wide-ranging re-capitalisation of the Canadian armed forces.

With Canadian combat operations in Afghanistan coming to an end, the remaining five aircraft are now being sold off, and the Canadian Forces are optimistic of finding a buyer.

'There is a disposal plan for the aircraft, they will not return to Canada, they have never physically been to Canada and our material organisation is working on a disposal plan for them,' said Lt Col Brian Derry, Task Force Freedom commander.

'The US Army doesn't want our D-models back. There should be interest out there, we are well-known for the TLC for our vehicles and so on in terms of maintenance, people will be getting very good pieces of equipment.'

The Canadians will therefore be losing Chinook capability for around 18 months, but the experience gained from using the aircraft in Afghanistan is being retained and crews, satisfied from their operational experience, are looking forward to getting their hands on the new machine.

'The majority of the initial cadre of pilots [for the F-model] will come from the D-model Chinooks, but there will also be some new pilots that have never flown the Chinook before,' said Major Colin Coakwell, commander of the Chinook flight at TF Freedom.

The introduction of the Chinooks for use in Afghanistan was an extremely challenging one, with the buying of aircraft, training of maintainers and crews, and then the introduction of the aircraft to theatre in just 10 months. Some crews were sent into theatre with just 30-40 hours of flying the type under their belts.

'There was a tremendous amount of risk in the aggressive approach we took, but it's paid off because you could not have had the capability any other way,' added Derry.

The CF have actually used seven Chinooks, designated CH-147D in Afghanistan; the seventh aircraft was leased in after the loss of one of the aircraft in August 2010. A second aircraft was lost just days before this visit and an investigation into the cause of that incident is underway.

There will be further coverage on Task Force Freedom in an upcoming edition of Defence Helicopter.


Tony Osborne, Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan
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