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April 27, 2011 at 6:07am

Aviators praise F model Chinook

The U.S. Army and its industry partner Boeing have built 126 CH-47 Chinook "F" model helicopters, the latest modernized cargo aircraft built with state-of-the-art avionics, automated flight controls and a digital cockpit GPS map display, service officials said. 

"When I talk to aviators in theater today about the "F" model Chinook, the one thing I hear is 'awesome,'" said Lt. Col. Brad Killen, CH-47F product manager. 

The "F" model Chinook, tasked with delivering supplies and troops at high altitudes in mountainous terrain such as in Afghanistan, is engineered with a Common Aviation Architecture System, or CAAS, cockpit, which consists of five multi-functional digital displays giving pilots key situational and navigational information, Killen explained. 

"The CH-47 Chinook demonstrates its exceptional capabilities every day in combat operations making them powerful combat multipliers that save soldiers' lives and support overall contingency operations in theater," Killen said. 

The aircraft also has a digital automated flight control system which, when coupled with the avionics built into the CAAS cockpit, can help stabilize flight and even help the aircraft to fly a given route by itself, Killen said. 

Also, unlike previous Chinook airframes, which were built with rivets, the "F" model helicopter is engineered with a "one piece" monolithic airframe. 

"With older helicopters you had rivets that held everything together. With the F model we went with one monolithic airframe. In a monolithic airframe you don't have cracks. It is one big piece," said Killen. 

The technologies built into the Chinook "F" can even help pilots land in "brown out" conditions, said Col. Bob Marion, program manager, Cargo Aircraft. 

"There is symbology on the multi-functional display that will show you where you are," Marion said. 

Overall, the Army plans to field at least 440 Chinook "F's" by 2018, Killen said. 

The U.S. Army is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Chinook helicopter this year. The first flight was completed in September 1961.

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