Netherlands to send CH-47F Block II Chinook helicopters to Iraq in 2024

The Dutch government has announced plans to increase its contribution to the NATO Mission in Iraq (NMI) by deploying three Boeing CH-47F Block II Chinook helicopters and 120 personnel for a one-year period starting in May 2024. This latest version of the legendary Chinook offers enhanced performance, versatility, and defensive capabilities.

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Dutch Government to Deploy Advanced CH 47F Block II Chinook Helicopters to Iraq in 2024 925 The CH-47F Block II Chinook incorporates several key enhancements to deliver improved performance and versatility  (Picture source: British Army)

The Netherlands has a history of military involvement in Iraq. Dutch Chinook helicopters were previously deployed at the Tallil Air Base in Iraq between July 2003 and November 2005. The upcoming deployment will mark the first mission for the new Chinook CH-47F Block II helicopters, which were delivered to the Netherlands between 2020 and 2021. Their last mission was in Mali in 2014 as part of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

The primary task of the helicopter detachment will be to resupply units and transport advisors, units, and equipment. The helicopters will have a total of 120 to 150 available flight hours per month. While the operational area for the NMI will be Baghdad and its surroundings, they will also cover Iraq, Kuwait, and Jordan for Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR). Syria has been excluded from the operational area due to a lack of legal basis for Dutch government deployment there.

The CH-47F Block II variant of the Chinook family incorporates several key enhancements to deliver improved performance and versatility. One of the notable upgrades is the incorporation of advanced avionics and digital systems, providing the crew with improved situational awareness, enhanced communication capabilities, and streamlined mission planning and execution. The digital cockpit features modern displays, integrated mission systems, and improved automation.

Furthermore, the CH-47F Block II offers exceptional lift capability and maneuverability due to its upgraded drivetrain and advanced rotor blade technology. It can operate effectively in various challenging environments, including high altitudes and hot climates.

In terms of defensive capabilities, the Block II variant features enhanced survivability systems, including advanced threat detection and countermeasures such as radar warning receivers, infrared jammers, and flare dispensers. These systems help protect the helicopter from various threats, including surface-to-air missiles and hostile fire. The helicopter can accommodate up to 33 fully equipped troops or a variety of cargo configurations.

In addition to the helicopter detachment, the Dutch Defense will lead the NATO Mission in Iraq with a detachment of about 15 men, including a commander and a political advisor. They will be based at Camp Union III in Baghdad. Furthermore, an infantry company of 145 men will also be deployed to Baghdad starting in January 2024 for a one-year period.

Between January 2021 and April 2024, the Netherlands had already sent a Force Protection unit of approximately 120 men for the protection of Erbil Airport. The responsibility was later transferred to Estonia. With the new deployment of about 300 personnel, Iraq will become one of the most significant operational theaters for the Dutch armed forces.