Washington: The CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift
helicopter that crashed yesterday in Afghanistan, causing the
single deadliest loss for US troops since the Afghan war began
in 2001, is the workhorse of the military, used to haul large
numbers of troops and equipment to the battlefield.
Its primary mission is to move troops, artillery,
ammunition, fuel, water, barrier materials, supplies and
equipment on the battlefield. Its secondary missions include
medical evacuation, disaster relief, search and rescue,
aircraft recovery, fire fighting, parachute drops, heavy
construction and civil development.
Depending on the configuration, the tandem-rotor
Chinook, first introduced in 1962, can carry 33 to 55 troops,
plus two pilots on the flight deck.
A central element in the Gulf War, they continue to be
the standard for the US Army in the global campaign against
terrorism. Since its introduction 1,179 Chinooks have been
built, according to Boeing, the manufacturer.
The Chinook, costing over USD 35 million, is capable of
speeds up to 170 knots (315 km/h). The Chinook`s three
external cargo hooks can lift up to 60,000 pounds of
The US military fleet of nearly 1,000 Chinooks comprises
multiple configurations with different types of mission-
specific avionics, armor and equipment, including night
vision, weather radar, infrared engine noise suppression and
infrared countermeasures to ward off heat-seeking missiles,
About 450 Chinooks have been sold to other countries`
militaries, according to Jane`s All the World`s Aircraft.
The US lost 30 service members yesterday when a CH-47
Chinook helicopter carrying them went down in eastern Wardak
province in Afghanistan while they were reinforcing other
troops. Seven Afghan commandos were also killed.
The Taliban claimed militants downed the helicopter with
a rocket-propelled grenade.
Among the 25 US special operations forces killed were 22
Navy SEALS, considered to be the "best of the best."
The majority of the Navy SEALs who died belonged to the
same covert unit that conducted the raid that killed Osama bin
Laden on May 2 in Pakistan, though they were not the same men.
There are 150,000 International Security Assistance Force
(ISAF) soldiers in Afghanistan, including nearly 100,000 from
the US -- the largest NATO presence in the region since the
US-led war began in 2001.