New CH-47F Chinook – 4th Inf. Div. Combat Tested, Approved in Iraq

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CAB PAO, 4th Inf. Div., MND-B

Crew Soldiers load cargo into the back of a CH 47F Chinook Improved Cargo helicopter
Crew Soldiers from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, MultiNational Division – Baghdad, load cargo into the back of a CH-47F Chinook Improved Cargo helicopter during a late night mission Aug. 20.

CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Since the Vietnam War more than 40 years ago, the CH-47 Chinook Cargo helicopter has provided troops on the ground with vital supplies necessary for the sustainment of combat operations all over the world.

On today’s battlefield, the aviation logistics mission hasn’t changed; however, with the integration of the newest version of the dependable aircraft, the CH-47F Chinook Improved Cargo helicopter, missions are being successfully completed faster and more efficiently than ever before.

Upon deploying from Fort Hood, Texas, approximately two months ago, the Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, became the first aviation unit in the Army to bring the upgraded cargo helicopter into combat and have since reported great success as they continue to provide logistical support to ground forces operating all over Iraq.

A CH 47F Chinook Improved Cargo helicopter Company B crew prepares the cabin for a late night mission.
A CH47F Chinook Improved Cargo helicopter crew from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, prepares the aircraft’s cabin for a late night mission Aug. 20.

“It’s a challenge to be the first ones out here with it (CH-47F), and we’re still learning a lot of its capabilities and still developing how we are using the aircraft,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Randolph Hay, a pilot with 2nd Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, CAB, who is from Seattle.

“As far as its enhanced capabilities, it gives us great situational awareness of where we’re at and makes our jobs a lot easier. It really enhances our performance and so far it has been great,” he said.

Company B soldiers load cargo into the back of a CH 47F Chinook Improved Cargo helicopter for a late night mission.
Crew Soldiers from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, MultiNational Division – Baghdad, load cargo into the back of a CH-47F Chinook Improved Cargo helicopter during a late night mission Aug. 20.

The CH-47F is a remanufactured version of the 20-year-old D model featuring new 4,868 horsepower engines that enable the aircraft to reach speed in excess of 175 mph and reach flying altitudes up to 20,000 feet, depending on the load.

Other enhancements include a newly designed digital crew station to include a digital map, glass cockpit and enhanced communications and navigation equipment.

Despite being the primary asset for MND-B’s airspace, the CAB’s 2nd Bn., 4th Avn. Regt.’s logistical support mission isn’t limited to the greater Baghdad area of operations and, in fact, encompasses virtually the entire country.

Spc. John Colwell performs CH 47F Chinook pre flight inspection.
Spc. John Colwell, a native of Phoenix, Ariz., who serves as a crew chief with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, MultiNational Division – Baghdad, performs pre-flight inspection on a CH-47F Chinook Improved Cargo helicopter before the start of a mission on Camp Taji Aug. 20. The CAB is the first aviation unit in the Army to deploy with the new CH-47F model.

During any given six-hour mission, it isn’t uncommon to see the Chinook crews dropping off supplies throughout the Iraq theatre of operations.

“We provide a service you can’t get anywhere else. In a heavy lift capacity, we can move more cargo, more efficiently and a lot safer than it takes to ground haul the equipment, said Spc. Josh Miller, a crew chief with Co. B, who is from San Antonio.

CH 47F Chinook pilot, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeremy Vance looks over his late night mission flight checklist.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeremy Vance, a native of Muncie, Ind., who is a CH47F Chinook Improved Cargo helicopter pilot with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, looks over his flight checklist prior to departing from Camp Taji for a late night mission Aug. 20.

“There are small forward operating bases and contingency operating bases out there that need small parts, pieces and whatever we can take them, and it is our responsibility to get them what they need,” he said.

Miller, who is now on his second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, said despite the improved security situation in Iraq, his battalion continues to provide about the same amount of general aviation support that they were tasked with in 2006. The primary difference between past and present is that the current missions are easier on both the crew and pilots.

A Combat Aviation Brigade CH 47F Chinook prepares to land after test maneuvers.
A Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, MultiNational Division – Baghdad CH-47F Chinook Improved Cargo helicopter prepares to land after the conclusion of test maneuvers at the CAB’s airfield on Camp Taji Aug. 20. The F model is the newest addition to the CAB’s fleet of approximately 110 aircraft and replaces the 20-year-old D model.

“The biggest difference with the aircraft is the avionics. Once the pilots are trained and proficient, it takes a lot of the mission planning and simplifies it,” Miller said. “Essentially, the entire aircraft has been upgraded to incorporate the newest digital systems, and because of these systems, the management of our missions is incredibly easy.”

Only time will tell of how successful the aircraft’s first taste of combat will be as the CAB continues to provide aviation logistical support to the hundreds of thousands of Soldiers and their Coalition Forces partners serving in Iraq.

Passengers take their seats on a CH 47F Chinook at the U.S. Coalition controlled section of the Baghdad International Airport
Passengers on a CH47F Chinook Improved Cargo helicopter take their seats and prepare to take-off from the U.S. Coalition controlled section of the Baghdad International Airport Aug. 20. The Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, is the primary aviation asset for the Baghdad area of operations and carries passengers as well as cargo to various destinations throughout the country.

“Our mission is to move people and cargo from one place to another. This encompasses the movement of Coalition troops, resupplying various forward operating bases – just about anything the Soldiers need, we will bring to them,” said Hays, during a resupply mission southeast of Baghdad.

“Our mission hasn’t changed. We are still pushing cargo to the troops on the ground, and as long as we’re here, we will continue to do so.”

Pfc. Daniel Halweg cleans a CH 47F Chinook windshield in pre flight inspection.
Pfc. Daniel Halweg, who is originally from Calmar, Iowa, and serves as a door gunner with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, Combat Avn. Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, MultiNational Division – Baghdad, cleans the windshield of a CH-47F Chinook Improved Cargo helicopter as part of the crew’s pre-flight inspections before the start of a mission at Camp Taji Aug. 20.
Company B, 2Bn 4th Aviation Regiment, 4ID crew load cargo into the back of a CH 47F Chinook Improved Cargo helicopter for a late night mission.
Crew Soldiers from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, MultiNational Division – Baghdad, load cargo into the back of a CH-47F Chinook Improved Cargo helicopter during a late night mission Aug. 20.
A Combat Aviation Brigade CH 47F Chinook Improved Cargo helicopter ready for a mission as a UH 60 Blackhawk helicopter crew passes by.
A Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Multi National Division – Baghdad CH-47F Chinook Improved Cargo helicopter stands ready for a mission as a crew operating a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter passes by at the CAB’s airfield on Camp Taji Aug. 20.

By Sgt. Jason Dangel