Leaders and employees from the H-47 Program gathered for a ceremony at Boeing’s helicopter facility in Ridley Township, Pa., Feb. 10 to commemorate the delivery of the final MH-47G Chinook to U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
Representatives from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Fort Campbell, Ky.; Technology Applications Program Office, Fort Eustis, Va; and U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., also attended the ceremony to recognize the completion of the MH-47G Service Life Extension Program. The decade-long endeavor produced 62 Special Operations Chinooks for U.S. Special Operations Forces warriors.
“We are all very proud to support aircrews of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment with the final upgrade of this MH-47G aircraft,” Leanne Caret, vice president, H-47 Programs, said at the ceremony. “We know this fleet of mission-ready aircraft will serve our troops with unmatched capability well into the future.”
“The work you do here is where it all begins,” said Col. John W. Thompson, commander, 160th SOAR (A), addressing employees at the facility. “We deploy this aircraft around the world on vital missions, and you are a part of that. Thank you for the work you do every day.”
The MH-47G Chinook is a twin engine, tandem-rotor, heavy assault helicopter specially modified for Special Operations missions. The aircraft has a secure, integrated communication system with both line-of-site and over the horizon capabilities. It has a precision integrated navigation system, defensive armament systems, radar and infrared detection and defensive systems, and is equipped with an aerial refueling probe. It also incorporates a Common Aviation Architecture System cockpit, vibration reduction, enhanced air transportability kits, a forward looking infrared, Multi-Mode Radar and other upgrades.
“This is truly a great accomplishment that will benefit USSOCOM for years to come,” said Donald Reedy, system acquisition manager for the MH-47G at SOCOM. He said the 160th SOAR(A), also known as the ‘Night Stalkers,’ will be able to use the MH-47G helicopter to conduct overt and clandestine infiltrations, exfiltrations, air assault, resupply and sling load operations over a wide range of environmental conditions.
“The aircraft can perform a variety of other missions including shipboard operations, urban, overwater, mass casualty, and combat search and rescue operations in support of the combatant commander,” he added.
Under the modernization program that began in 2004, the fleet of MH-47D and E model Chinooks were modified to include additional capabilities specifically for the 160th SOAR (A).
“This program illustrates the outstanding team work between numerous government agencies and industry to deliver the most highly capable and most highly integrated heavy assault helicopter in the world,” Reedy said.
In February 2007, the first MH-47G was flown into combat. This month marks fours straight years in combat for the MH-47G aircraft with thousands of combat hours flown, usually at night, in all weather conditions, and in the face of enemy fire, helping the 160th SOAR (A) live up to their motto, “Night Stalkers Don’t Quit.”