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.
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.
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.