October 10, 2015: Strategy Page
The Netherlands has ordered another 14 American CH-47F transport helicopters (at $67 million each). These will replace the eleven older CH-47Ds, which the Dutch are retiring rather than rebuilding as CH-47Fs. The 22 ton CH-47F can carry ten tons of cargo, or up to 55 troops, and has a maximum range of 426 kilometers. Its max speed is 315 kilometers an hour. Typical missions last no more than three hours. It is the best helicopter for use in placed like Afghanistan, having proved able to deal with the dust and high altitude operations better than other transport choppers. The Dutch already have six CH-47Fs, which they ordered in 2010 when Dutch troops were part of the NATO force in Afghanistan.
Back in 2010 the Dutch found out how useful the CH-47 was when they sent three of their CH-47Ds to replace five Cougars. The Eurocopter Cougar EC725 is an 11 ton aircraft with a useful load of 5.5 tons, a top speed of 324 kilometers an hour, a range of about 850 kilometers and can stay in the air for about five hours per sortie. The Cougars had been in Afghanistan since late 2009 and the Dutch found, as other countries had, that the CH-47 was more effective in places like Afghanistan than the EC725 (or the similar UH-60). The CH-47D is a 22 ton aircraft with a max load of ten tons. The first CH-47s entered service in 1962, able to carry only five tons. Some 750 saw service in Vietnam where 200 were lost in action. Between 1982 and 1994 500 CH-47s were rebuilt to the CH-47D standard. Now many CH-47Ds are being upgraded to the CH-47F standard. As a result of all this, the CH-47 will end up serving at least 75 years even without another major upgrade.
The Netherlands uses their military helicopters a lot for peacekeeping missions, where Dutch helicopters have become a welcome addition because of the skill of the Dutch crews and the reliability of their well-maintained helicopters. The Dutch don’t have a large army or a lot of special operations troops. But they maintain a modern and effective fleet of military helicopters and these are in big demand by peacekeepers.