This Massive Helicopter Has Handled US Air Drops For 50 Years

SEALs Chinook Yeah

Photo: MC3 Robyn Gerstenslager

From high-speed low-visibility inserts of specialised SEAL teams to simple ammo drops at middle of nowhere posts in Afghanistan, this beast has been servicing those in service for more than 50 years.It’s seen combat in so many different countries, if it were a soldier, it’d be one of the most decorated in the unit.

Boeing is currently celebrating 50 years of CH-47 Chinook production, with the helicopters first rolling off the line in 1962

The aircraft came to define a number of American conflicts, with unparalleled airlift abilities coming to centre stage in every war since Vietnam

The Chinook is a tandem-rotor helicopter, with each rotor spinning in a different direction to provide stability and manoeuvring

It's powered by two Lycoming T55 engines mounted on each side of the rear rotor

The Chinook saw extensive use placing artillery guns in the Vietnam War, moving material in Desert Storm, and carrying out air assault and casualty evacuation in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars

But one of it's best uses is moving around really, really heavy things whenever they're needed

The Chinook can carry up to 28,000 lbs of cargo and has a range of around 450 miles

This Chinook is transporting a Humvee to a forward operating base in southern Afghanistan, saving the Humvee from a potentially dangerous highway trip

The helicopter can also be used to transport planes, like this F-15A Eagle

The Chinook is powerful enough to carry more than its own weight in cargo

Here, a Chinook lifts a Naval Special Warfare inflatable boat and deploys crew from a ladder

This sort of operation allows naval special combat teams to expedite travel between bodies of water

The Chinook is also crucial when it comes to airlifting supplies to places in a state of emergency

Here, a Chinook airlifts pallets of freshwater to Ocala, Florida in preparation for Hurricane Frances in 2004

The Chinook also has ample space inside to transport material, like these ready to eat meals going to Florida from the Oklahoma National Guard

Here, a Chinook airlifts sandbags to New Orleans in preparation for Katrina

Japanese Chinooks doused the Fukushima reactors with huge buckets of water like this in 2010

Still, the Chinook can do much more than transport tethered cargo — it is also an exceptional troop transport

Troops have been using the Chinook as an air assault platform since its introduction

The Chinook — which only requires a crew of three to fly — can hold between 33 and 55 troops

It can also have up to three 7.62mm machine guns mounted on the loading ramp or windows for ground assaults

At 98 feet long, it's a relatively spacious helicopter, which usually means that the limit for loading is weight, not space

With 50 years behind it, dual civilian and military use and years of unparalleled service, the Chinook will remain in production for years to come, and stay in service even longer

Now that you've seen what's low and tough, check out what bombs from way up high

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