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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Netherlands Expands Chinook Fleet

The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) is expanding its helilift capacity with the acquisition of six CH-47F (NL) Chinook transport helicopters. The first new Dutch Chinook made its maiden flight at the Boeing Helicopters testing area in Philadelphia yesterday, the Netherlands Ministry of Defense announced.

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The ministry has ordered six CH-47Fs, which in addition to having tactical lift capabilities, are better equipped for special forces operations than the D version it supplements.

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The CH-47F is easier to maintain than the CH-47D and has an improved cockpit with a digital automatic flight system, making it easier and safer to fly under difficult conditions and to land in dusty or sandy environments, according to the Netherlands Ministry of Defense. A forward-looking infrared radar gives it better situational awareness. The CH-47F has five fast rope positions, a self-defense system and is better armed than the CH-47D. There is also room for growth, for example by adding defense against rockets.

In RNLAF service, the CH-47F will have a grey color scheme, compared to the green CH-47D.

The Netherlands' Defense Materiel Organization plans to hand the first CH-47F to the RNLAF at the end of the year, followed by the remaining five within the following six months. This will increase the number of RNLAF Chinooks to 17.

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