CH-47 Chinook helicopter detachment

CH-47 Chinook helicopter detachment

CH-47 Chinook helicopter detachment deployment, Kandahar Air Base, 2006 – April 2007; and February 2008 – .


In March 2006 the CH-47 Chinook helicopter detachment was deployed to Afghanistan, to be based at Kandahar Air Field, as Task Group 633.7. Initially, the detachment operated primarily in support of the Special Forces Task Group. After the SOTG’s (Special Operations Task Group) withdrawal in September 2006, the detachment’s primary role shifted to support of coalition forces, “priority given to Australian activities”. The detachment consists of two CH-47D helicopters, and 110 personnel from the 5th Aviation Regiment. The Chinook deployment received $57.6 million over two years (including $43.0 million in 2005-06) in the 2006-7 budget. The two Chinooks were withdrawn in early 2007 for refurbishing, and the helicopters and crew returned to Australia in April 2007. In February 2008 the aircraft and crew re-deployed to Kandahar.

Chinook over Afghanistan

Chinook over southern Afghanistan. Source: Department of Defence, Australia

Government sources


Rotary Wing Group, Force Elements Currently Deployed as part of JTF633, Australian Operations in Afghanistan Fact Sheet, Department of Defence  [accessed 14 August 2010]

First deployed to Afghanistan in 2006, Australia’s Rotary Wing Group (RWG) from the Townsville-based 5th Aviation Regiment operates two CH-47D Medium Lift Helicopters (MLH) from Kandahar Air Field in support of ISAF helicopter operations. The CH-47D, a tandem rotor cargo helicopter with a maximum all up weight of 50,000lbs (22,727kg),  provides significant lift capability in high density-altitude conditions, making  it well suited to operations within Afghanistan’s traditionally harsh  environment. Australian CH47Ds are currently embedded with the United States Army’s 101st Combat Aviation Brigade with whom they perform combat support, quick response force and medical/casualty evacuation missions

Army ‘Chooks’ ride again, Defence News, Department of Defence, 30 March 2010

Army CH-47D Chinook helicopters have commenced summer operations in Afghanistan. The pair of ‘Chooks’, operated by Rotary Wing Group 5, will spend the next eight months providing airlift support to the International Security Assistance Force in Southern Afghanistan.

The Townsville-based helicopters were airlifted into Afghanistan aboard Air Force C-17A Globemasters less than a month ago.  Since then the aircraft have been reassembled and put thorough a rigorous testing program to prove they are ready to operate in the hot and high location.

Commanding Officer of Rotary Wing Group 5, Lieutenant Colonel David Lynch said the detachment will be embedded with the United States Army 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade.

“We have inserted our two Chinooks into the company to bolster their capacity to do heavy lifting throughout Regional Command (South),” Lieutenant Colonel Lynch said.

Army Helicopters Return to Australia after a Successful Deployment to Afghanistan, Media release, Department of Defence, MSPA 364/09, 23 October 2009

Following an eight month operational tour to Afghanistan, the Australian Army’s fourth Rotary Wing Group (RWG – 4) deployment, consisting of two CH-47 Chinook helicopters, crew and support personnel, has started to head home. RWG – 4 Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Karl Hamlyn, says the tasks that have confronted the approximately 60 members of the group have been a real test of character and endurance. During its tour, the aircraft and crew completed more than 780 flying hours, and lifted over seven thousand passengers and more than a million pounds (453592.4 kgs) of cargo. RWG – 4 has worked for the past eight months in some of the most challenging of conditions. Throughout their deployment they faced the ongoing threat of attack by Taliban insurgents, such as when one of the Chinooks was hit by small arms fire on 3 August 2009. The two medium-lift helicopters will return to Afghanistan following the winter break to commence operations in March next year.

Chinooks arrive in Kandahar, Image Galleries 2009, Operation Slipper, Department of Defence, 10 March 2009

C Squadron, 5th Aviation Regiment, Rotary Wing Group (RWG), arrive at Kandahar; Southern Afghanistan. RWG tradesmen and technicians engage in aircraft post-transport build-ups. Working in shifts, the soldiers prepare the RWG’s CH-47 Chinooks for operational service.  The RWG, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Carl Hamlyn, has been in country for less than 24 hours. The Rotary Wing Group has been deployed to Afghanistan as a vital element of the NATO and coalition effort in fighting the war on terrorism.

CH-47 Detachment Departs for Afghanistan, Mike Kelly, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, Media Release, PARLSEC1/08, 8 February 2008.

“Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Support, the Hon Dr Mike Kelly AM, MP, will this afternoon farewell soldiers from Townsville?’s 5th Aviation Regiment as they set off to join the coalition effort in Southern Afghanistan. The main detachment of soldiers consisting of aviators, loadmasters and technicians from C Squadron, will join the advance party and two Australian CH-47 (Chinook) aircraft in the southern Afghanistan province of Kandahar. This is the second time the CH-47s have been used by Australian forces during Operation Slipper, with the aircraft undergoing upgrades and deep maintenance since the last rotation ended in April 2007.”

Return of Ch-47 Detachment, Media Release, Peter Lindsay MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, Australia, 8 Apr 2007

“110 Australian Army personnel from the 5th Aviation Regiment returned home to Townsville following their deployment to Afghanistan.”

About Operation Slipper, Department of Defence, Australia

“On 10 January 2006, then Defence Minister Robert Hill announced that two CH-47D Chinook helicopters and 110 personnel would deploy to Afghanistan in March 2006. This detachment, based at Kandahar Air Field, provides aero-medical evacuation, air mobility and logistic support to coalition partners with priority given to Australian activities. This deployment has been extended to April 2007.”

ADF Operations Update Media Brief, Transcript, Brig Gus Gilmore, 23 November 2006.

“Since the Special Forces Task Group returned to Australia in September, the Chinook helicopters have continued supporting the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, in southern Afghanistan. Their support to ISAF consists mainly of troop movement, supply missions, humanitarian assistance and occasionally, but most importantly, casualty evacuation. These sorties often involve flying into extremely hazardous situations to evacuate wounded ISAF and Afghan National Army personnel who require life-saving emergency treatment.”

Chinook helicopter detachment commanders (Rotary Wing Group)

Chinook helicopter detachment base

Kandahar Air Field


High achievers, Capt Lachlan Simond, Army News, 19 April 2007

Australian Chinooks during Operation Slipper, Op Slipper Images, Department of Defence, Australia, 5 April 2007

“Task Group 633.7 operated two CH-47D Chinook helicopters, which were utilised in support of combat and logistical operations. The Chinooks are part of a coalition air support group, originally designated Task Force Knighthawk and later Task Force Corsair. The majority of the Task Force’s aircraft are drawn from the American Army. The Chinooks began missions in March 2006 and flew their last mission on 30 March 2007.”

1,000 Hours of Air Time, Captain Lachlan Simond, Dispatches, Department of Defence, Australia

“One thousand hours flown without serious incident or accident demonstrated the pace and the tempo of the operations, Lt-Col Prictor said. ‘It is at least twice the amount of flying time two aircraft would normally accrue in a year and the detachment has achieved that on combat operations in Afghanistan,’ he said. The detachment provides one third of the US medium lift helicopter capability in southern Afghanistan. Lt-Col Prictor said aircraft and crews were interchangeable with the US, and Australia was treated as an equal partner. ‘Our pilots are often the air mission commanders on combined US-Australian missions,’ he said.”

Afghanistan helicopter force hit by crew shortage, Ian McPhedran, Courier-Mail, 12 April 2007

“A lack of qualified crew rather than wear and tear has left Diggers in Afghanistan without Australian helicopter support for the rest of the year. Two Chinook heavy-lift choppers from the Townsville-based 5th Aviation Regiment have been recalled after a 12-month tour and will not be replaced until next February. Commander of 5th Aviation Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Mick Prictor, said the helicopters needed to be rebuilt after logging 1215 combat hours.”

Analysis and commentary

Afghanistan helicopter force hit by crew shortage, Ian McPhedran, Courier-Mail, 12 April 2007

“A lack of qualified crew rather than wear and tear has left Diggers in Afghanistan without Australian helicopter support for the rest of the year. Two Chinook heavy-lift choppers from the Townsville-based 5th Aviation Regiment have been recalled after a 12-month tour and will not be replaced until next February. Commander of 5th Aviation Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Mick Prictor, said the helicopters needed to be rebuilt after logging 1215 combat hours.”

Taliban Attacks Aussie chopper, The Age, 14 March 2007

“An Australian helicopter carrying media as well as Afghan and US troops narrowly escaped being hit by insurgents who opened fire as it flew low over a Taliban-dominated area of Afghanistan. Television footage shot by an SBS [Special Broadcasting Service] cameraman aboard the Chinook chopper on Monday showed an object – either a tracer round or a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) – missing the aircraft by some 20 metres. The Chinook was carrying five aircrew, a six-strong Australian media contingent, four Afghan National Army soldiers and four members of US special forces. It was flying between Forward Operations Base Ripley at Tarin Kowt and Kandahar early on Monday afternoon Afghanistan time when the incident occurred.”

Video of March 14 Chinook attack, The Age

Incident involving Australian Ch-47 Chinook Helicopter in Afghanistan, Media Release, Department of Defence, Australia, 14 March 2007

Interview with Officer Commanding Chinook Detachment in Afghanistan, Lt Col Kevin Humphreys, Incident involving an Australian CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan, 14 March 2007 , Department of Defence, Australia

Australia Ordering CH-47F Chinooks, Defence Industry Daily, 27 April 2009

In December 2005, Australia decided to upgrade its CH-47D Chinook fleet, in preparation for use on the front lines. Afghanistan’s high altitudes and sometimes-scorching temperatures reduce rotor lift. That made the Chinooks a far better choice than upgrading the ADF’s S-70 Black Hawk helicopters, whose reduced carrying capacity would limit their tactical uses. Those CH-47D Chinooks have gone on to play an important role in Afghanistan, amidst a general shortage of useful helicopters. Now, Australia seems determined to supplement its older CH-47D fleet with new and improved CH-47F models, which feature more modern electronics, uprated engines, and numerous other improvements.

July 1/09: Shephard Group reports that Australia may not place a contract order for the new CH-47Fs until 2012, and doesn’t expect to field them before 2016-2018. In the interim, Australia hopes to issue maintenance support tenders for its 6 existing CH-47Ds.

The original acquisition plan, approved by the Liberal Party government, would have bought 3 new-build CH-47Fs, and remanufactured existing CH-47Ds to CH-47F configuration. The new Defence Capability Plan, issued this day, revises the timeline and is silent on the balance between new and remanufactured aircraft.

See also

Project coordinator: Richard Tanter
Page maintained by: Arabella Imhoff
Ronald Li
Updated: 14 August 2010