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MH-47

Special operations transport helicopter

MH-47

The MH-47 can be easily distinguished from other Chinooks by an air refueling probe

 
 
Country of origin United States
Entered service mid 1980s
Crew 5 men
Dimensions and weight
Length 15.87 m
Main rotor diameter 18.28 m
Height 5.59 m
Weight (empty) 12.2 t
Weight (maximum take off) 24.5 t
Engines and performance
Engines 2 x Lycoming T55-L-712 turboshafts
Engine power 2 x 3 750 shp
Maximum speed 289 km/h
Cruising speed 259 km/h
Service ceiling 2.99 km
Range 1 136 - 1 382 km
Ferry range 2 224 km
Combat radius 560 km
Endurance 5 h 30 min
Payload
Passengers 30 ~ 40 men
Payload (internal) ~ 10 t
Payload (external) ~ 11.8 t
Armament
Machine guns 2 x M134 7.62-mm miniguns, 2 x M240D machine guns
Missiles provision for AIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missiles

 

   The MH-47 is a special missions helicopter, used by the US Army. It was developed by Boeing in response to a request from Special Operations Forces. The early MH-47D was a version of the CH-47D Chinook, transport helicopters, developed to carry-out secret missions behind the front line, such as infiltrations and extractions into and from the hostile territory. It was adopted in the mid 1980s. Since its introduction this special operations helicopter has operated around the world and conducted combat missions in different climate conditions.

  The MH-47 incorporates combat systems, that make the helicopter more survivable and allow it to operate deep in enemy territory. It is fitted with terrain-following radar, additional fuel tanks, in- flight refueling probe and some defensive modifications. The MH-47 is the primary heavy lift helicopter of the US Army's elite 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, also known as Night Stalkers. Crews of these helicopters routinely train for agent drops, sabotage, combat rescue and other missions.

   This helicopter is mainly intended to operate at night and in adverse weather conditions, hence its black paint scheme. It flies fast and very close to the ground, in order to avoid detection by enemy radars. Also flying low is a good way to avoid enemy missiles.

   The MH-47E is fitted with advanced terrain-following radar and a Forward-Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) sensor, which is essential for night operations. Such equipment allows to fly 30 meters above the ground and even lower. Furthermore it can operate in almost any adverse weather conditions.

   The MH-47 carries more fuel and has longer range than the standard CH-47 Chinook helicopter. Additional fuel tanks are bolted to the sides. Furthermore it is fitted with a telescopic in-flight refueling probe, which extends forward. It was the first production helicopter with in-flight refueling capability. The MH-47 can be completely refueled in less than 4 minutes by an MC-130J Commando II or similar tanker aircraft. This air refueling capability extends the striking reach of special forces raiders.

   The current MH-47G version of this transport helicopter is armed with two M134 7.62-mm miniguns and two M240D 7.62-mm machine guns. The original MH-47G normally used only two 12.7-mm machine guns. This helicopter has a provision to carry AIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missiles.

   The MH-47 is operated by a crew of 5, including 2 pilots and 3 gunners. This helicopter can airlift a platoon of Rangers in one mission. Once in the area of deployment the troops can leave the helicopter through the rear cargo ramp. This helicopter is also used for parachute insertion, fast rope insertions or water insertion, depending on mission requirements. The rear cargo ramp is often left open during operations to allow rapid exit of troops.  During the insertion or recovery stage, defensive firepower is provided by the helicopter's machine guns. The MH-47 can also carry inside a transport vehicle such as HMMWV, or other special forces vehicles, or supplies. Furthermore this helicopter can carry various loads underslung.

   Although in service with the US Army, the MH-47 helicopters are often used to carry US Navy SEALs. It is one of few US military helicopter, that is capable of landing on water to launch or recover SEAL teams.

   Another interesting role of the MH-47 is establishment of forward arming areas and refueling points. These are known as "fat cow" operations. For this role three 3 028-liter fuel tanks are carried internally. The MH-47 can also resupply existing points.

   The extra equipment carried by the MH-47 reduced some of its performance comparing with the standard CH-47 Chinook. It has reduced climb performance and service ceiling.

 

Variants

 

   MH-47D is the original version of the MH-47, adopter in the mid 1980s. This early version was built around the CH-47D transport helicopter airframe. It was powered by two Textron Lycoming T-55-L-712 turboshaft engines, developing 3 750 shp each. A total of 11 helicopters were built. Over time many of these helicopters were improved with better engine control systems and refueling probes. All of these 11 helicopters have been upgraded to the MH-47G standard.

   MH-47E is an improved version with many refinements. A contract for the development of the MH-47E was awarded to Boeing in 1987. The resulting MH-47E is similar to the MH-47D, but is fitted with more powerful Textron Lycoming T-55-GA-714A engines. Also it has enhanced management software, improved fuel capacity via integral fuel tanks and more advanced avionics. A total of 51 of these helicopters were ordered. Deliveries commenced in 1993. Due to its more powerful engines this helicopter has excelled in high altitude operations, conducted in combat missions in Afghanistan. Also it saw action in Iraq.

   MH-47G is the most current and sophisticated version. It has similar upgrades, introduced with the CH-47F transport helicopter standard. This helicopter is powered by two new Honeywell T-55-GA-714A turboshafts, developing 4 733 shp. Engines are fitted with infrared exhaust suppressors in order to reduce the helicopter's IR visibility. The MH-47G has got new cockpit, and enhanced survivability equipment. Older MH-47D and MH-47E helicopters have been remanufactured to this standard. Also some machines were newly-built. It is planned that the US Army's MH-47G fleet will remain operational until at least 2030s.

 

 
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