CH-47 Chinook Heavy-Lift Helicopters for the Philippine Air Force?

The Philippine Air Force started to enhance its 205th Helicopter Wing with the procurement of 16 S-70i Black Hawk Helicopters to be built by a Sikorsky subsidiary in Poland. While this update goes to the interest of the citizenry that checks tabs regarding Philippine military and national defense matters, there is another asset where, as recently provided on mainstream media reports, is as just as interesting as the first one.

The United States Army Boeing CH-47 Chinook Helicopter
participated in a Bilateral "Balikatan" Exercises with the Philippine
Armed Forces three years ago.
Image Source.
The news comes as the United States is reportedly offering these large helicopters for the Philippine Air Force as official Philippine diplomatic channels detailed it from Washington D.C. as the country is opting and considering the possibility of having such helicopters for the Air Force to obtain which provides a lot of lift that the service branch needs in times at hand.

Apparently, such a statement flows on the idea of interoperability and compatibility which determines the principle as to why the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) still stick with Western Technology despite reports regarding the ideas of procuring Russian Mi-171 Medium Lift Helicopters for this service branch of the AFP to have. With the ideas of triggering CAATSA or Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (as it is abbreviated) from buying Russian Helicopters wherein it threatens to sanction the country just like what it potentially do to Turkey, as well as it provides enough worries that will keep banks from providing the financial needs for the mode of payment or transactions to be made just like in the case of the Philippine Army RPG-7 procurement process, the idea of having Chinook Helicopters comes as an alternative which at any way still provides the capability of lifting supplies by bulk or the additional number of troops that will help the AFP a lot especially if it involves providing rapid deployment of men and equipment on areas of conflict that requires immediate resolution or elimination of the threat.

So, this discussion will provide interesting knowledge and insights about the helicopter from its manufacturer up to its development as well as the previous and current Philippine Air Force procurement plans that go related to this topic wherein the ideas of technicality, feasibility, and capability will be tackled upon. These in which provide the idea of what will it be for the Philippine Air Force, especially for the consideration of obtaining such an asset as the CH-47 Chinook Helicopter.

With details extracted from Philippine Military Historian Cdr. Mark R Codeno.

The plans for acquiring Chinook Heavy-Lift Helicopters is something that seems to be relatively new especially in defense discussions given that in the past, the military assets offered are primarily focused more on assets such as Sikorsky S-76s and Bell UH-1 Hueys, both of which are still in service with the Philippine Air Force up to the current date. However, this is not the case wherein there are already plans back then for the service branch to procure these heavy-lifters for the country to have. This actually happened during the 1970s, under the Marcos administration. 

Upon the link provided above on the details extracted from the Philippine Military Historian as he posted it on another Defense Page, the plans that were made before the 1977-1981 5-year AFP Modernization Program (this one precedes the 1995 and the current 2013 version) considers the viability and importance of rapid transport of troops and equipment across the country especially in terms of counterinsurgency efforts in the South of the country were the issues back then - as it still holds true even today. Such plans were being considered back then given that it will help augment the Philippine Air Force's C-130s which was only three units during that period (the current number of units for such a platform is four, with one will help replace a single unit suffered from a fire which may equate overall to five units).

While this was considered back then, it was worth considering that such plans did not push through and instead settle with the existing inventory of military cargo aircraft of that time which is both the C-130s and the UH-1 Hueys. At the present date, this is now getting to consider once again, wherein getting to know and understand about the platform and its development is something for us to have an idea about the CH-47 Chinook helicopters.

Its heavy-lift capabilities are a necessity in the Philippines' current
setup wherein bulks of supplies and troops are to be deployed on
bulk at a shorter time, in both combat and disaster ops.
Image Source.
The CH-47 Chinook Helicopter is the main heavy-lift workforce of the United States Army wherein its performance is already reputable where several countries also obtain such units in their respective armed forces. Through the decades it serves among its users, its service is definitely useful for its respective users which at no surprise it is still serviceable until at the present date despite the design being derived from the 1960s - at the period in which other helicopter platforms like the UH-1 Huey, the ones that are still in service within the Philippine Air Force, were being produced. 

It all started when Boeing in the 1960s bought Vertol Aircraft Co. which is the company that is behind the earliest of developments behind the CH-47 Chinook which helps develop such kind of helicopter to what it is today. Even before Vertol formed, there is the Piasecki where there originate the core essentials of what is to be the tandem-rotor composition that is the main feature of the Chinook. It all started when Piasecki Helicopters Corporation developed the HRP Rescuer helicopter which in itself is the first tandem-rotor helicopter produced in service. Designed by its founder Frank Piasecki, this is considered the first helicopter that served the United States Coast Guard, United States Navy, and the United States Marine Corps in terms of doing practical operations such as search and rescue operations, earlier tactics for vertical assault, and other matters which are unthinkable in terms of utilizing rotary aircraft given that it was on its period of infancy.

Through the years since the HRP Rescuer helicopter was developed and produced for its aforementioned users, Piasecki Helicopters now improved its tandem-rotor helicopter design further with the H-21 Shawnee commissioned into service. It apparently went into service with several countries starting with the United States with its Air Force and Army utilized the platform with other countries being Canada, France, Sweden, Japan, and Germany. The H-21 sought service in Vietnam wherein its design has shown its weakness where it is under-armored and is vulnerable to small-arms fire, especially in its control and cabling components. Apparently, in the course of the Vietnam War, this platform was replaced by, of course, the CH-47 Chinook Helicopter which in itself an ever-enhanced improvement of the H-21 Shawnee which is still in service with several countries even at the current date. Nevertheless, the H-21 Shawnee still provides that insight that, along with its HRP Rescuer predecessor, tandem-rotor helicopters are reliable on their own worth which of no surprise help developed the more modern version of such platform where its performance is of benefit for several countries that have them.

After the H-21, there is still one more helicopter platform for us to discuss and learn especially regarding the origin of the CH-47 Chinook Helicopter's design. Here comes the CH-46 Sea Knight Medium-lift Helicopter which was produced by the same manufacturer - Boeing Vertol Helicopter company. Designed for servicing the United States Navy and Marine Corps, it served both military service branches for decades ranging from the Vietnam War (in which the CH-47 Chinook under the U.S. Army also served) to the combat zones in Iraq where it helped the U.S.M.C. conduct its operations (with several casualties in place) up until to its retirement in the early 2000s where it was replaced eventually by the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft produced by a joint partnership between Boeing and Bell Helicopters. 

With this number of tandem-rotor helicopter versions that were made, it goes to show the importance of obtaining such platforms in such a way that the developers have managed to make up with the CH-47 Chinook Helicopter which still shows its reliability, performance, and capability that is still up to its purpose even in the modern age.

Specifications (CH-47-F) 
Obtained from Source.

Rotor Diameter: 18.29 m (60 ft)
Length with Rotors Operating: 30.14 m (98 ft, 10.7 in)
Fuselage: 15.46 m (50 ft, 9 in)
Height: 5.68 m (18 ft, 7.8 in)
Fuselage Width: 3.78 m (12 ft, 5 in)
Fuel Capacity: 3914 liters (1034 gallons)
Maximum Speed: 302 km/h (170 KTAS)
Cruise Speed: 291 km/h (157 KTAS)
Mission Radius: 200 nm (370.4km)
Service Ceiling: 6,096 m (20,000 ft)
Max Gross Weight: 22,680 kg (50,000 lbs)
Useful Load: 24,000 lbs (10,886 kg)

Both the Philippine and US troops participated in a bilateral
exercise with the CH-47 Chinook in the background.
Image Source.
It is worth taking note that the Philippine Ambassador to the United States Manuel Romualdez is keen on the idea of procuring the CH-47 Chinook Helicopters for the Philippine Air Force to use as part of the service branch's flight plan, prompting for this topic to be discussed on this blog website.

Given the contents of the news report regarding this procurement option, the United States government in this manner is offering such kind of helicopters for the Philippine Air Force alongside the S-70i Blackhawk Combat Utility Helicopters which is now in its manufacturing phase (which will be delivered next year) and the F-16V Viper Multirole Fighter Jets where it is one of the candidates for the Philippine Air Force Multirole Fighter Jet Program, wherein both of which are also both offered by the United States to the current administration. It comes as no surprise given that the Philippine Air Force on its Flight Plan 2028 potentially includes the CH-47 Chinook as a candidate of its Heavy-lift helicopter project which comes alongside these projects aforementioned. Since the United States offered it and the Philippine Air Force is considering it at quite some time, there is the possibility of that potential that such an asset may get materialized where it really provides what is needed currently by the Philippine Air Force on its airlifting capabilities. Take note that such a procurement option like this one is at their discretion so as on considering this or not as current needs and assessments are factors on how they set up procurement plans that aim for the service branch's efficiency and effectiveness of its duties and responsibilities as provided by law.

So, it is worth the time and patience to see what will it be for the Philippine Air Force's Heavy Lift Helicopter project will be wherein obtaining an asset such as the CH-47 Chinook Helicopter is something that goes essential not only in deploying a larger amount of troops and supplies in combat but also in terms of providing immediate necessities on disaster areas as part of the Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Response work of the Philippine Armed Forces along with relevant agencies such as the Office of Civil Defense, also part of the Department of National Defense.


Since the option is still part of the plans which is the desire of an organization such as the Philippine Air Force to have, there is still a chance that the setup or options for military equipment may change from time to time as the requirement and the spectrum of demands in place may influence the outcome of how procurement plans set up as part of the organization's Flight Plan 2028.

All that it takes now is for us to check and see how will this fare out to the necessities of the Air Force's requirements given that technicalities and feasibilities are to be considered thoroughly here as well as other factors that are provided in the same manner as other procurement processes on the discretion of the organization's Technical Working Group. With the service branch already considered it decades ago way back to the 1970s, perhaps it may be worth the time now for checking and re-considering this platform once again given that it obtains larger space for the troops and supplies to carry which is the main factor for the overall tide of the combat in favor of the Philippine Government as well as to immediately alleviate the Humanitarian situations at the times of disaster where dire help is badly needed. Not to mention that the bilateral exercises between the Philippines and the United States may help the former in terms of interoperability with such an aircraft shall these helicopters will be opted for purchase by the country, given that this is also offered by the United States government alongside S-70i Black Hawk Combat Utility Helicopters and Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70/72 Viper Multirole Fighter Jets in which both are candidates on their respective projects with the former being on its way to delivery.

It now comes with hopes and dreams for the country to have especially in terms of its current situation on calamities and insurgency operations that such a platform will be ideal, in a manner that it will improve the service branch's own duties and responsibilities especially on matters that involve airlifting supplies, troops and other necessities on areas concerned. All of which is for the betterment of the country and its eventual development.

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