August 21, 2007 Aviation history was made at Fort Campbell recently as a newly designed CH-47 Chinook helicopter was officially ushered into operation. Allowing greater capability and Soldier safety, the new $30 million bird was turned over to Company B, 7th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade.

"How appropriate that we come together here with this aircraft at this installation with this unit," said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, 101st Airborne Division commander.

Most known for its tandem rotors and heavy-lift capabilities, the helicopter can fly in extremely high altitudes and handle cargo unlike any other aircraft.

Now with digital screens instead of analogue gauges, the new Advanced Flight Control System improves situational awareness by allowing pilots to easily upload such mission details as routes and altitudes. A revamped airframe designed for 10,000 flight hours also eliminates extraneous vibrations and maintenance time.

"It provides more capability at an easier maintenance cost than ever before," Maj. Gen. Schloesser said.

Safety is the best thing about the new model, said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Tom Miskowiec, standardization instructor pilot and instrument flight examiner, 7th Bn., 101st Avn. Regt. "In safety there's capability. When we can do it safer and easier, it provides us with more abilities to support the warfighter."

Boeing worked with the Army for three years to design and prepare the new model, the first conventional Chinook upgrade in more than 20 years.

"The CH-47F is a fully modernized aircraft that will fully meet the operational challenges that our Army and our country face now and in the future," said Chuck Allen, vice president and general manager of rotorcraft systems, Boeing.

"It's really exciting to get a new aircraft," added Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ryan Dechent, Chinook pilot with the 7th Bn., 101st Avn. Regt. "I think it's going to extend our capabilities and open new avenues that we haven't been able to go down before."

More than 100 CH-47F Chinooks will be built from the ground up, while other Chinooks will be rebuilt to state-of-the-art standards.