MH-47G Chinook Special Operations Helicopter

The Boeing MH-47G is a special operations variant of the CH-47 Chinook multi-role, heavy-lift helicopter. It is in service with the US Army Special Operations Aviation Command (USASOC). The first new-build MH-47G helicopter was delivered to the USASOC in September 2014.

The MH-47G is used in heavy-lift missions such as the transportation of troops, ammunition, vehicles, equipment, fuel and supplies, as well as civil and humanitarian relief missions. The helicopter can conduct long-range missions at low level, in adverse weather conditions during the day / at night.

Boeing received a $26.9m indefinite-delivery / indefinite-quantity contract for the production of Block 2 MH-47G aircraft in July.

Boeing receives contract for MH-47G special operations helicopters: Here


Boeing has received a $27 million contract from the U.S. Special Operations Command for preparatory work on the production of Block 2 MH-47G Chinook special operations helicopters, the Department of Defense announced.

The contract calls for incorporating new and existing stockpiles of government and contractor components to upgrade CH-47 ariframes to the MH-47G variant. The airframes are being modified under the auspices of the Thechnology Applications Program Office.

The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) of the US Army has the requirement for 61 MH-47Gs. The MH-47G modernisation programme is aimed at delivering a mix of remanufactured and new MH-47Gs to the USASOC.

MH-47G design and features

The MH-47G incorporates a monolithic, machine-framed fuselage integrating long-range fuel tanks, and an extendable refuelling probe to receive fuel mid-air from fixed-wing tankers. The helicopter also possesses advanced cargo-handling capabilities.

Joe A. K

The airframe houses a rear ramp for loading / unloading of troops, supplies and vehicles. The port side of the fuselage features a gunner’s window / firing port. The helicopter offers seating for five crew, including two pilots and three crew-chiefs or aerial gunners.

The FighterJetGeek

The helicopter can be fitted with special operations equipment such as a fast rope insertion extraction system (FRIES), a special patrol insertion and extraction system (SPIES), a rope ladder, an electrically powered rescue hoist and a personnel location system (PLS).

The fuselage of the MH-47G measures 15.9m-long and 4.8m-wide. The overall length of the helicopter with unfolded rotors is 30.18m. It has a maximum gross weight of 24,494kg and can transport a useful load of 11,340kg.

Josh Kaiser

The MH-47G uses 2 T55-GA-714A engines with IES-47 Infrared Exhaust Suppressors fitted to reduce the helicopter’s IR visibility. Enhanced Air Transportability Pylons allow for faster re-build of an air-transported helicopter. ‘Fat tanks’ are fitted in the form of enlarge fuel sponsoons that extend the MH-47G’s range. An extendable refueling probe allows the aircraft to take on fuel mid-air from compatible fixed-wing tankers. The airframe a belly hatch, bubble windows along each side and a rear ramp that can be used to load and off-load troops, supplies and vehicles. A rescue hoist/winch is mounted above the starboard-side forward door. A gunner’s window / firing port is found on the port side fuselage, rear of the flight deck. A door is on the opposite side, which has a rescue hoist mounted over it. Source

US Army begins process to replace manufactured MH-47G Block 1 Chinooks with Block 2 newbuilds

The US Army is moving ahead with plans to begin replacing its current remanufactured MH-47G Block 1 Chinook special mission helicopters with newbuild Block 2 platforms.

A request for information (RFI) issued by the Aviation Integration Division (AMCOM) on 14 March calls for an initial six newbuild MH-47G Block 2 Chinooks with an option for a further eight helicopters to partially replace the army’s 61 MH-47Gs that were made from remanufactured CH-47D and MH-47D/E airframes.

Fielded by the US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), the current MH-47G fleet comprises the 61 remanufactured Block 1 helicopters (62 were delivered – 35 CH-47Ds, 9 MH-47Ds, and 18 MH-47Es – although one was lost on operations in Afghanistan), as well as 8 newbuild MH-47Gs for a total fleet of 69 Block 1 platforms.

Derived from the baseline CH-47F heavy-lift Chinook, the MH-47G is a specialist special-mission platform that features double-capacity ‘fat’ fuel tanks, an in-flight aerial refuelling probe, a digital advanced flight control system, and classified sensors and electronic warfare kits specified by SOCOM. The USASOC’s MH-47Gs are among the most heavily utilised in the army’s inventory, and it is likely that all 69 Block 1 helicopters will eventually be replaced with Block 2 models.

The Block 2 enhancements, which are being developed for the US Army’s wider CH-47F fleet, include the Advanced Chinook Rotor Blade (ACRB), which features geometry and a new asymmetric aerofoil to increase the aircraft’s lift capacity by about 1,500 lb (680 kg) at 4,000 ft and 35°C in the hover (the army’s 4K/95 performance benchmark). Source

Cockpit and avionics

The helicopter features a fully integrated digital cockpit management system. The cockpit accommodates a pilot and a co-pilot in a side-by-side arrangement. The night vision goggle-compatible glass digital cockpit features five liquid crystal multi-function displays (MFDs) and two control display units (CDUs).

Pilots of a MH-47G Chinook perform pre-flight tests. Note the 5 MFD LCD displays visible as part of the digital glass cockpit. The pilots interact with these MFDs via the switches in their surrounding bezel. Also visible, level with the pilot’s upper arms, are the screens and keyboards for the 2 lower Control Display Units (CDUs). U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Rissmiller/Released

The integrated digital common avionics architecture system (CAAS) of the cockpit allows for the integration of global communications and navigation systems, including a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) and a multi-mode radar. The FLIR, along with an electro-optical camera mounted below the chin, enables low-level flights in low-visibility and adverse weather conditions.

The cockpit also houses a digital moving map display, dual digital data buses, an inertial doppler navigational system, an automatic target hand-off system, a GPS receiver and a Rockwell Collins low-frequency automatic direction finder.

The on-board communication systems include a high-frequency (HF) radio, a single-channel ground and airborne radio system, four ultra high-frequency (UHF) / very high-frequency (VHF) radios, a blue force tracking system, an IFF transponder and a digital inter-communication system (DICS).

The cockpit also features digital moving map display, dual MIL-STD-1553 digital databuses, AN/ASN-137 inertial doppler navigational set, CP1516-ASQ automatic target hand-off system, AN/ASN-149(V)2 GPS receiver and Rockwell Collins AN/ARN-149(V) low-frequency automatic direction finder.

Josh Kaiser

Rockwell Collins AN/ARN-149(V) low-frequency automatic direction finder

The system gives your military aircraft around the world the ability to navigate in austere locations where a commercial AM broadcast signal is the only available navigation aid.

Features & Benefits

  • Lightweight – under 11 lbs for complete system
  • Synthesized digital tuning
  • Internal, field-upgradable, MIL-STD1553 compatibility (input and output functions) with retention of analog interface
  • 100 to 2199.5 kHz frequency coverage in 500 Hz steps; positive digital selection
  • Integrated sense-loop antenna, dual antenna available for dual installations
  • Dual identification tone filter enhances Morse tones for positive aural identification even with noisy reception conditions
  • Two preset emergency channels
  • Easy retrofit; uses existing control wiring in most cases
  • Internal QEC, connector-strapped; airframe wiring sets QEC
  • Meets RTCA MOPS
  • DO-160 rated for hard mounting in helicopters and fixed wing aircraft
  • High reliability; predicted MTBF is 4,900 hours


MH-47G Sensors

  • AN/ZSQ-2 EOSS – A foward-looking infrared (FLIR) and electro-opitcal camera mounting in a bubble under the helicopter’s chin enables the pilots to fly low level, at night and in marginal weather
  • AN/APQ-174B Multi-mode Radar ‘Silent Knight’ multi-mode radar
    the MH-47’s radar features terrain-following, terrain-avoidance and weather detection modes

AN/ZSQ-2 electro-optical sensor system

AN/ZSQ-2 V1 Electro-Optical Sensor System (EOSS) – Image – Joe A. Kunzler

The Raytheon AN/ZSQ-2 electro-optical sensor system is part of the company’s Multi-Spectral Targeting System (MTS) family of sensors for target detecting, ranging, and tracking. The sensor system is packaged in a turreted or forward-looking pod combining electro-optical and infrared sensors, as well as full-motion video camera for long-range surveillance and high-altitude target acquisition, tracking, and laser designation.

Russell Hill

The sensor pod is capable of integrating multiple-wavelength sensors, near-infrared and color TV cameras, target illuminators, eyesafe laser range finders, image merging capability, spot trackers, and other kinds of avionics, Raytheon officials say. The AN/ZSQ-2 can laser-designate targets for the AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missile, the Paveway laser-guided bomb, and other U.S. and NATO laser-guided munitions. Source

AN/APQ-174B/187 Multi-mode Radar ‘Silent Knight’ multi-mode radar

AN/APQ-174B Multi-mode Radar ‘Silent Knight’ multi-mode radar – Michael Block

The AN/APQ-174/186 Multi-Mode Radar family protects aircrew and aircraft by lowering the probability of detection by enemy forces.

The APQ-174/186 Multi-Mode Radar (MMR) family provides terrain following and terrain avoidance for a wide variety of military aircraft. The MMR allows safe flight down to a 100-ft set clearance at night, in adverse weather, and in high-threat environments. It lowers the probability of detection by enemy forces and increases mission success through terrain masking and minimizing time spent in threat range. It reduces risk to the aircrew and the aircraft by balancing the low-level terrain clearance altitude with flight safety considerations.

The MMR uses proven control algorithms, high-reliability designs, and extensive built-in-test software to provide a high-confidence system with high user acceptability. MMR modes include:

  • Terrain following (TF)
  • Low power/low velocity (LP/LV) TF
  • Terrain avoidance (TA)
  • Ground mapping (GM)
  • Air-to-ground ranging
  • Weather detection (WX)
  • Beacon interrogation (BCN)
  • Cross scan modes (TF/TA, TF/GM, TF/WX, TF/BCN)

The APQ-174B is deployed on the U.S. Army Special Operations MH-60K and MH-47E aircraft. The APQ-186 is a derivative of the APQ-174 currently being developed for the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) CV-22. Source

General data:
Type: Radar Altitude Max: 0 m
Range Max: 3.7 km Altitude Min: 0 m
Range Min: 0.2 km Generation: Early 1990s
Properties: Pulse-only Radar
Sensors / EW:
AN/APQ-174 MMR/TFR – Radar
Role: TFR, Terrain Following Radar
Max Range: 3.7 km


MH-47G Communications Gear

  • AN/ARC-220 High Frequency (HF) Radio
  • AN/ARC-201D Single channel ground and airborne radio system (SINCGARS)
  • 4x AN/ARC-231 (UHF, VHF) including 2 with satcom capability
  • AN/ASN-145 AHRS Jam-resistant radios
  • MTX Blue Force Tracker
  • AN/APX-123 IFF Transponder
  • Digital Inercommunication System (DICS)


AN/ARC-220 HF Airborne Communication System


Military users need an easy-to-operate, multifunctional, fully digital signal processing (DSP) high-frequency radio for rotary-wing applications. That’s why Rockwell Collins designed the AN/ARC-220 HF airborne communications system. It provides embedded Automatic Link Establishment (ALE), serial tone data modem, text messaging and GPS position reporting functions.

The ARC-220 was designed specifically for rotary-wing applications, enabling pilots to keep their eyes out of the cockpit. It is fielded on all U.S. Army Black Hawk, Chinook and Apache helicopters and has identical capabilities to the VRC-100, which is fielded by the U.S. Army at Aviation Tactical Operation Centers.

Features & benefits

  • Specifically designed for rotary-wing platforms
  • Automatic Link Establishment (ALE) offers best clear-channel selection
  • Digital signal processing
  • Global range and 200 watts of power ensure continuous tactical communication
  • Embedded data modem
  • Upgradable to meet future requirements


Paul Carter


The Harris AN/ARC-201 delivers the reliability of SINCGARS field-proven voice and data communication systems, combined with battle-ready networking capabilities, all in a lightweight form factor.

Reliable Tactical Communications with Secure Anti-Jam Voice and Data

The SINCGARS Airborne Radio’s integration of COMSEC and the Data Rate Adapter (DRA) combines three Line Replaceable Units (LRU) into one—reducing overall aircraft radio weight. This Type 1 airborne solution prevents jamming and interception through noisy channel avoidance and enhanced frequency hopping, and supports future battlefield requirements with improved error correction, Enhanced Data Modes (EDMs), more flexible remote control and Global Positioning System (GPS) compatibility.

Key Benefits

  • Features SINCGARS, the world’s most fielded radio technology
  • Reduced weight for deployment versatility
  • Compatible with legacy SINCGARS data modes
  • Supports future digital battlespace requirements


AN/APX-123 IFF Transponder

Our CXP products incorporate all of the advanced features required in today’s
global military and civil air traffic control environments. The AN/APX-123/A
transponder contains an NSA-certified M4/M5 crypto and meets all U.S. and
NATO Mode 5 requirements. The transponder’s open-system architecture
design and high-density field programmable gate array technology ensures
ongoing versatility and future utility through software upgrade only, without
the risk and cost associated with hardware modifications. The CXP is configured
for replacement of all AN/APX-100, AN/APX-101, AN/APX-108, AN/APX-64,
AN/APX-72 and AN/UPX-28 transponders.

Features and/or benefits
• Flexible interface designed to accommodate retrofit and new installations
• Supports Modes 1, 2, 3/A, C, 4 and Mode 5 Level 1 and 2
• Supports Mode S Level 3 and interface to TCAS II systems per RTCA/DO-181
• Elementary surveillance (ELS) and enhanced surveillance (EHS)-compliant
• ADS-B Out compliant per RTCA/DO-260B
• DoD AIMS 03-1000 certified
• NSA-certified M4/M5 crypto
• MIDS and JTIDS-compatible
• Optional remote control unit for use on non-bused platforms
• MIL-STD-1553 control and status for glass cockpits
• Ethernet and RS-232 for shipboard control
• FAA TSO-C112 and TSO-C166 certification


MH-47G armament and self-protection

A Night Stalkers crew chief fires a M134 minigun from the forward starboard opening. This port can be opened up fully to create a doorway from which troops can fast-rope down to the ground. Note the winch fitted over the doorway. This can be used to lift individual troops up into the aircraft. A rope ladder can also be fitted here. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Marcus Butler

The helicopter is armed with two M134 7.62mm electrically operated, air-cooled mini guns and two M240 7.62mm belt-fed machine guns mounted on either side of the fuselage at the forward and rear sections.

2 x M134 7.62mm electrically operated, air-cooled mini guns

The M134 Minigun is an externally operated weapon which uses electrical motor drive to operate its action. Typical power requirements for 3,000 rounds per minute (50 rounds/second) rate of fire are 24-28 V DC, 58 Amp (~1.5 KWt); with increase of rate of fire power requirements rise accordingly. The gun operates on Gatling principle, that is it employs a rotary cluster of six barrels, each with its own bolt group. Bolts are moved back and forth behind each barrel as their operating roller passes an internal curved track machined inside the receiver cover. Typically, the topmost barrel in the cluster has its bolt fully open and the bottom barrel in cluster has its bolt fully closed, locked and firing pin released to fire the loaded cartridge. Barrel locking is achieved by the rotary bolt head. Since the gun operates on external power, it is immune to dud / misfired rounds, which are ejected during the normal cycle of operation. Feed is provided either by linkless chute or by the linked ammunition, In the latter case, a powered feeder/delinker module is installed on the gun; it receives necessary power through the gear from the gun motor. To properly operate the gun, it is fitted with electronics control box, which, in the case of manually controlled installation, has an ‘master arm’ switch and fire controls (triggers). Typical feed arrangement uses a large container holding some 1,500 (full weight ~ 125 lbs / 58 kg) to 4,500(full weight ~ 295 lbs / 134 kg) rounds, with maximum capacity reaching well over 10,000 rounds per gun in certain heavy helicopter installations (such as used in CH-53 and CH-47 during Vietnam war). The container is connected to the gun via the flexible chute. If chute is overly long, an additional electrical feed booster is installed on the ammunition container.

Caliber  7.62×51 NATO
Weight 24…30 kg gun with motor and feeder/delinker, less ammunition container and power source
Length 801 mm
Barrel length 559 mm
Feed belt in 1500, 3000 or 4500 round containers
Rate of fire 3000 or 4000 rounds per minute, fixed


2 x M240 7.62mm belt-fed machine guns

M240 mounted on a MH-47G – Michael Block

The FN MAG is a gas operated, belt fed, air cooled automatic weapon. It uses the long piston stroke gas system with the gas regulator, located below the barrel.The bolt is locked using a swinging shoulder that engages the cut in the floor of the receiver. The air-cooled barrel is quick-detachable, with the carrying handle attached to it to help handling of the hot barrel. The receiver is made from steel stampings.

The M240 is fed using the disintegrating steel belts of various lengths. The rate of fire can be selected between “low” (~650 rpm) and”high” (~950 rpm), depending on the tactical situation, and the gun can be fired in full auto only. The charging handle is located on the right side of the receiver.

The simple folding bipod is attached to the gas block, and there’s a mounting points on the bottom of the receiver to fit into the various mountings,including infantry tripods. The open sights are fitted by standard, and some of the latest production MAG versions have Picatinny-style scope mounts on the top of the receiver. Standard guns are fitted with the pistol grip and trigger, and the wooden (early models) or plastic (present manufacture) butt, coaxial guns(like M240C) have the trigger replaced by the electric solenoid, and the pintle-mounted versions, like the M240D, have the spade grips instead of the pistol grip and the butt.

Caliber: 7,62x51mm NATO
Weight: 11 – 13 kg on bipod (depending on version), ~21 kg on tripod
Length: 1260 mm
Barrel length: 545 mm
Feed: belt
Rate of fire: selectable, 650-750 and  950-1000 rounds per minute


The defensive aids aboard the rotorcraft include a common missile warning system (CMWS), an integrated radio frequency countermeasures suite, a laser warning system and XM216 dark flares.

Defensive systems

  • Common Missile Warning System (CMWS)
  • Suite Of Integrated Radio Frequency Countermeasures (SIRFC)
  • AN/AVR-2b Laser Warning System
  • XM216 Dark Flares (invisible to naked eye)

AN/AAR-57 common missile warning system (CMWS)

BAE Systems’ AN/AAR-57 Common Missile Warning System provides advanced missile warning and hostile fire detection for rotary and fixed-wing aircraft. The system uses electro-optic missile sensors (EOMS) paired with an electronic control unit (ECU) to quickly respond to current and evolving threats in any situation. Designed to automatically detect a wide range of missile and hostile fire threats, CMWS gives the pilot and aircrew the confidence to complete the mission.

Superior detection

  • Compatible with existing chaff, flare and RF decoy dispensers, and laser DIRCM systems
  • Over 2,100 systems installed on fixed –wing and rotary-wing aircraft
  • Flown more than 2 million combat theatre flight hours
  • Hostile fire indication capabilities
  • Enables data recording capabilities for post-mission analysis
  • Can be used as a centralized processing system for Integrated Aircraft Survivability Equipment


AN/AVR-2b Laser Warning System



The AN/AVS-2B(V) was derived from the system developed for the Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche. Goodrich claimes it is 40% smaller, 45% lighter (i.e. approx. 2,5 pounds (1,5 kg) per sensor) and uses 45% less power than the previous AN/AVR-2A(V) version . The system provides increased functionality for threat detection and data interface and has demonstrated a 500% improvement in reliability. The model was introduced into service in 2004. Source

Type: ESM Altitude Max: 0 m
Range Max: 18.5 km Altitude Min: 0 m
Range Min: 0 km Generation: Early 1990s
Role: LWR, Laser Warning Receiver
Max Range: 18.5 km

AN/AVS-2B(V)  – Image:


The AN/ALQ-136(V)2 CMS is designed for the Special Electronics Mission Aircraft (SEMA) and the Special Operations Aircraft (SOA) — RC-12, MH-47E, MH-60K, EH-60A. This CMS is programmed to respond to the pulse radar signals of the most critical threat weapon system anticipated to be encountered by SEMA and SOA in a hostile environment. It can operate against multiple threat weapons systems simultaneously. It has programmable modules, covers a broader frequency range than the (V)1 CMS and has built-in preplanned product improvement capabilities. The AN/ALQ-136(V)2 CMS consists of three types of line replaceable units (LRUs). These LRUs include one receiver/transmitter (RT) assembly, one control indicator assembly and four antennas. The RT assembly utilizes state-of-the-art gate array and gallium arsenide lightweight circuit boards. The total system weight is 72 pounds. Source

Engines of MH-47G special operations helicopter

Fight to Fly Photography

The helicopter is powered by two Honeywell T55-GA-714A engines, which develop a maximum power output of 3,529kW each. The engines are equipped with infrared (IR) exhaust suppressors to reduce the IR visibility of the helicopter. The helicopter has the capacity to carry 7,828l of fuel.

T55-GA-714A engines

The T55-714A features a seven-stage axial compressor, a two-stage free power turbine, a two-stage gas producer turbine, centrifugal compressor, and a reverse-flow atomizing combustor. All models can be configured with a Full Authority Digital Electronic Control (FADEC) system.

Upgrade kits are currently available from Honeywell for the T55 Family of engines. These will update the engine with latest technology standards. Compared to older T55 engines, the T55-714A upgrade provides a 22% power increase, a 7% improvement in fuel efficiency and a significant enhancement of reliability and maintainability. Altogether, the upgrade results in a 25% reduction in operation and support costs. Also, the time between engine overhauls will increase to 3,000 hours. The goal is to go to on-condition maintenance in the future.

Honeywell‘s next generation T55-L-71X engines will offer the flexibility of even more power with improved SFC.

Manufacturer: Honeywell International, Inc.
(originally produced by Lycoming Engines – Textron)
Power: Continous: 4,168 shp; Max: 4,867 shp
Overall Pressure Ratio at Maximum Power: 9.32
Compressor: Axial flow/centrifugal
Compressor Stages: 7-stage axial/1-stage centrifugal
Turbine: 2 HP + 2 PT
Engine Control: FADEC
Length: 47.1 in (1.2 m)
Diameter: 24.3 in (61.6 cm)
Dry Weight: 830 lbs (376 kg)
Platforms: CH-47 Chinook; MH-47 Special Forces Chinook
Price/Unit Cost: $1.06 million (in 2016)
Introduced: 1950s (first T55 model)
First Run: 1950s (first T55 model)
First Flight: September 21, 1961


The power plant provides a maximum speed of 315km/h and long-range fuel tanks ensure a maximum mission radius of 630km.

MH-47G Specifications

Crew Pilot, Co-pilot + 3 crew chiefs/gunners
Engines 2xTextron Lycoming T55-4-714 Turboshaft engines
Dimensions L – 15.87m
W (rotor diameter) – 18.82m
H – 5.59m
Weights 12,210 kg (empty)
24,494 kg (max loadout)
Max Speed 259 kph
Range 1382 km
Armament 4 gun stations (port/starboard front and rear) :
2x m134 7.62mm miniguns (front)
2 xM240D 7.62mm machine gun (rear)


Main material source

Images are from public domain unless otherwise stated

Main image by Raven Harris

Updated Dec 18, 2021

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