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Afghanistan to field Chinook heavy-lift helos

27 January 2020
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A US Army Chinook helicopter is seen landing at an outpost in eastern Afghanistan in 2011. The DoD has said it will equip the Afghan Special Mission wing with an undisclosed number of such helicopters for counter-terrorism purposes. Source: Jane’s/Gareth Jennings

Afghanistan is to receive an undisclosed number of Boeing CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters to help replace its ageing Russian-built inventory and to enhance its air mobility capabilities, the US government disclosed in late January.

In its December 2019 report to Congress, titled Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan, the US Department of Defense (DoD) noted that it is to equip the Afghan Special Mission Wing (SMW) with Chinook helicopters to fully replace its current Mil Mi-17 'Hip' fleet by the end of 2023.

The SMW, which is part of the Afghan Special Security Forces, will use these helicopters to support counter-terrorism operations.

While the DoD did not disclose numbers, the SMW currently fields approximately 30 Mi-17s that are in the process of being replaced by 40 Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. Depending on the DoD's plans for building up the capabilities of the wing, a force of about 10 to 15 Chinooks would provide an appropriate force mix.

Given the Chinook's intended counter-terrorism missions, it could well be that the helicopters provided to the Afghan SMW will be the MH-47 special mission variant rather than the CH-47 transport variant.

While the US has provided the SMW and the Afghan Air Force (AAF) with surplus Black Hawks, it has at the same time provided new-build MD Helicopters Inc MD 530F Cayuse Warrior light attack rotorcraft and Sierra Nevada Corporation A-29 Super Tucano attack aircraft. It is not stated in the report whether the Chinooks will be surplus US Army CH-47D/MH-47E or new-build CH-47F/MH-47G models.

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