From 9 to 11 May 2023, personnel from the Italian Army, German Air Force, Royal Netherlands Air Force and Royal Air Force came together at Gilze-Rijen Air Force Base in The Netherlands for the first Cargo Helicopter Interoperability Project (CHIP) meeting of 2023.
The aims and outputs of the CHIP are to improve interoperability between cargo helicopter users, aircrew and support staff by exchanging information, training possibilities and simulations in order to improve operational output.
The attending members of the CHIP were shown around No. 298 Squadron who fly the famous twin-rotor CH-47 Chinook helicopter. Whilst at the Sqn, a tour around one of the helicopters was provided, during which personnel naturally broke into focus groups to discuss problems, issues and solutions to operating such a complex machine, both in conflict and in peacetime.
The German Air Force has also recently decided to procure the CH-47 and the members of the German Air Force, keen to learn lessons, were especially interested in listening to the guidance provided by the other nations, some of which have been flying the Chinook since the late-1970s.
Later on the same day, personnel were provided with a tour around the helicopter simulation trainer that is housed at Gilze-Rijen. The facilities are extremely ‘high tech’ and the Italian Army personnel expressed a keen interest to train there.
On the last day, the RAF contingent presented a talk focused on two recent air safety occurrences with the CH-47 and the lessons learnt. Discussions were also held about how best to continue, future topics to be discussed and ways to improve future meetings and the CHIP as a whole.
Overall, this CHIP meeting was a great success, completely fulfilling the aims and outputs stated above.