Iran's CH-47C Chinook Helicopters

 

 

         
Imperial Irainian Army Chinook tail number 5-4059.

             An Imperial Iranian Army Aviation (IIAA) CH-47C, tail number 5-4059, is captured on film as it participates in the "Imperial Freedom Air Parade" over Isfahan, in the Summer of 1976.

 

 

         
Imperial Iranian Air Force Chinook tail number 5-382.

             In the July 1977 photograph above, an Imperial Iranian Air Force (IIAF) CH-47C, tail number 5-382, is resting at Mehrabad Air Force Base (AFB), Tehran, Iran.

 

 

             The Imperial Iranian Air Force (IIAF) and Imperial Iranian Army Aviation ( IIAA), also known as Airborne Cavalry Battalion, were formed and developed during the Shah of Iran's regime (1935-1979). The Shah of Iran left the country in February 1979 and Islamic Republic of Iran was announced on April 1st, 1979. Both service designations changed after the 1979 revolution to the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) and the Islamic Republic of Iran Army Aviation (IRIAA).

             After an important agreement signed between Boeing and Elicotteri Meridionali, the IIAF took delivery of 20 Elicotteri Meridionali built CH-47Cs in 1971.
Map of Frosinone, Italy, where the Augusta facilities are located.

             Elicotteri Meridionali was a company formed by Augusta in 1967 with facilities in Frosinone, south east of Rome, Italy. The first 20 IIAF serial numbers were 4-200 through 4-209 and 5-300 through 5-309. Prior to their delivery, it should be noted, Boeing Vertol had sent samples to Iran for operational evaluation in high and hot desert environmental conditions. Some sources suggest that first 6 or 8 Iranian CH-47Cs came from Boeing. However, that has yet to be confirmed.

             The IIAA took delivery of 70 CH-47Cs from Elicotteri Meridionali during the period of 1972-1976. The serial numbers were 5-4050 through 5-4119. In late 1978, Iran placed an order for an additional 50 helicopters with Elicotteri Meridionali, but that order was cancelled immediately after the revolution.

             Since the 1979 revolution, all Iranian serials have changed to a dash + four digit numbering system. Their current serials are unknown. Also, the new government uses out of sequence numbers for all military aircraft, so it is nearly impossible to track the serial numbers. Additionally, a single number inside a circle appeared under the tail flag on the aft pylon which is assumed to represent the base of operation since the bases are now numbered instead of named.

             According to sources, the Iranian Helicopter Support Company, which was a well equipped and staffed plant chain (in 16 locations) completely overhauled, re-built and reverse-engineered some models of all military helicopters including the Chinooks.

             Sources indicate, as of December 2001, the IRIAF (air force) was operating 14 CH-47Cs, including 5 completely re-built from Iran-Iraq war. 6 others were transferred to the Revolutionary Air Guard, "Gordane-Pasdaran" which was a separate force controlled by the air force. The IRIAA (army) was operating 45 CH-47Cs in "perfect" condition.

             As of the year 2000, some of the bases in use for the Iranian Chinook helicopters were (see map below):

             Tehran-Mehrabad AFB Tactical Air Base Number 1 (TAB-1) - the headquarters of the Iran Aircraft Industry (IACI) and the Iranian Helicopter Support and Manufacturing Company (IHSMC). After extensive military service in the war against Iraq, most of the Agusta-built Boeing CH-47 Chinook medium lift helicopters were re-built at Mehrabad. This work included main rotor blade fabrication and balancing. The necessary jigs and fixtures were built.

             Doshan-Tappeh AFB, Tehran - the headquarters of the Air Force Logistics Command and consisted of several overhaul facilities.

             Tabriz (TAB-2) - the headquarters of the Northern Helicopter Command and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) logistics support. Reportedly, Iran is producing 3 different types of UAV's, perhaps copies of Russian or North Korean versions. Two of them have been shot down over Iraq, close to Ghasre-Shirin border during reconnaissance missions, one in 1994 and the other in 2000.

             Ghale-Morghi AFB, Tehran - the central repair facility for Air Force, Pasdaran, and Army aviation.

             Shahrokhi AFB (TAB-3), Hamadan - consisted of Air Force helicopter overhaul facilities.

             Tabas Desert Modification facilities - this is the place where the United States Marine Corps (USMC) CH-53 helicopters crashed during the hostage rescue mission. One of those USMC CH-53s was completely rebuilt and was placed into service by the Iranian Navy alongside the rest of the RH-53 mine sweepers purchased during the Shah's reign.

             Bakhtaran, formerly Kermanshah, (TAB-5) - was the largest Army helicopter base, housing some 300 choppers of different types. Consisted of repair, overhaul and remanufacturing facilities for helicopter and UAV repair.

             Shiraz (TAB-7) - consisted of aerospace universities, wind tunnel and electronics/avionics design and manufacturing facilities.

             Isfahan (Esfahan) (TAB-8) - this was formerly Khatami AFB, also known as "Helo-city", and was the Army Aviation headquarters. Formerly a Bell-Textron facility, it was developed into a large manufacturing plant run by Antonov, and was partially used for AN-140 aircraft production and for helicopter engine repairs.

             Bandar-Abbas (TAB-9) - a combined Army/Navy base, including the repair and test facilities of the Southern Command.

             Chah-Bahar (TAB-10) - a composite base built by the United States as a tri-service facility, including army helicopters. A Large part of this huge base was underground. MIG-29s, SU-24MKs, F-4s and F-5 came to the runway by ramp or lift for take-off. Some data suggests that helicopters fly from their underground "rooms" through sliding roofs.

             Umidieh (Omidieh) (TAB-11), Aghajari - built during the Iran-Iraq war, was the largest engineering and manufacturing facility of the ministry of military industry. It included three universities, 2 technical institutes, one physics research center, two modification plants, avionics-radar-missile development labs, test centers, and helicopter weapons development facilities.

             Masjed-Soleyman (TAB-12) - as of 2000, was the newest base, built during the Iran-Iraq war, and home to over 200 front line bombers and a large number of attack/utility/transport helicopters, including the CH-47 "Chinook" and possibly the MI-26 "Halo" (unconfirmed) helicopters.

             Mashad, in the district of Khorasan - was the main base, closest to Afghanistan border. It was also the overhaul, test and engineering headquarters for the Eastern Command.

             Abadan - home of the world's largest refinery, was also a base for helicopter engineering and production for indigenous and reversed engineered spare parts.

             Dameghan (Damghan) Research Center - (see map at the bottom of the page), located at N3610' E5420' on the road between Tehran and Mashad, was a center for weapons systems development, including the locally designed and manufactured radar and cable guided missiles for Shabaviz helicopters. The Shahbaviz 75 was a carbon copy of UH-1D/AB-205. Other helicopters included the Model 2061 and 2091. The Model 2061 was a reversed engineered AB-206 and the 2091 was an AH-1J Sea Cobra. Damghan was also one of Iran's many chemical weapons production facilities, producing blister, blood, choking agents, and nerve agents. In 2001, Iran was estimated to have an inventory of several thousand tons of various agents, including sulfur mustard, phosgene, and cyanide agents, with a total production capacity estimated at as much as 1000 tons a year.

 

 

         
Iranian Military Installations as of 2000.

 

 

             Iran lost at least 8 Chinooks during the 1980-1988 war with Iraq. On one fateful day, 15 July 1983, an Iraqi Mirage F-1 destroyed three Iranian CH-47s flying low to deliver marines to a front line.

   Pictured to the right is tail number 5-4001 deploying soldiers across the mountain border into Iraq in 1986.
Iranian CH-47C landing with marines.

 

             During the Shah's reign, two CH-47Cs crashed during relief missions for earthquake victims in northern Iran. Reports indicate that at least 10 airframes were cannibalized for spare parts. Additionally, by the year 2000, locally built fiberglass blades were in use.

             On or about 21 July 1978, four Iranian CH-47C Chinooks penetrated 15-20 km into Soviet airspace in the Turkimenistan Military District. They were first intercepted by Soviet MiG-23M pilot A.V. Dem'janov, who mistakenly identified them as Soviet helicopters. The helicopters were intercepted a little later by MiG-23M pilot V.I. Shkinder. He fired two R-60 (AA-8 Aphid) missiles, shooting down one Chinook, killing eight crewmembers. He then fired his GSh-23L 23mm cannon at another Chinook, forcing it to land near Gjaurs. The four crewmembers of this helicopter survived, but were captured by Soviet border guards. The remaining two Chinooks escaped back into Iranian airspace. Shortly thereafter, the Soviets allowed the damaged Chinook (5-4092) to be repaired by Iranians. This helicopter and its four crewmembers were then allowed to return home.

 

 

         
Iranian CH-47C tail number 5-3302.

             The 1997/98 photograph above is one of the latest of an IRIAF CH-47C Chinook. The tail number is 5-3302. Note some of the external modifications as compared to earlier Iranian Chinooks: locally built blades, engine foreign object damage (FOD) prevention screens and the IRIAF's new emblem between the windows.

 

 

         
Iranian CH-47C flying over the Shahyad monument in Tehran.

             Above, a CH-47C flies over the Shahyad Monument (memory of the Shah) in Tehran. This was an eight story museum with a moving belt that transported visitors through an interesting multimedia display.

 

 

         
An Iranian CH-47C transporting a C-47D to a museum.

             An Iranian CH-47C sling loads a Douglas C-47D Dakota from Mehrabad AFB to Doshan-Tappeh AFB where an aviation museum was located. This aircraft was placed on display there. Note the removed rudder and wings, as well as the lift spoiling drag chutes that were used to keep the Dakota stable during the move.

 

 

         
An Iranian Chinook was transporting an army snow bridge to the 17,860 foot high Zagros mountains, west of Iran.

             This photo is from the 1980-88 war between Iran and Iraq. An Iranian Chinook was transporting an army snow bridge to the 17,860 foot high Zagros mountains, west of Iran.

 

 

         
Interior view of Iranian CH-47C.

             The above photograph shows the interior view of an Iranian CH-47C helicopter. Note the number 1 and number 2 stability augmentation system (SAS) control boxes located on the bulkhead (Station 120) just behind the flight control closet.

 

 

         
IIAF Chinook tail number 4-201.

             In an undated photograph, IIAF Chinook 4-201 bears the markings displayed during the Shah's reign.

 

 

         
IIAF Chinook 5-4061.

             In an undated photograph, IIAF Chinook 5-4061 bears the markings displayed during the Shah's reign.

 

 

         
On 11 February 2004, celebrations of the 25th anniversary of Islamic Revolution took place all over Iran. The main demonstration was held in Tehran where some 100,000 people, led by President Khatami, marched to Azadi (Freedom) Square. During the celebration several helicopters were seen flying around the scene. The ceremony began with parajumpers dropping from three different types of helicopters belonging to different forces. Above, an unidentified Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) CH-47C was the first to participate.

             On 11 February 2004, celebrations of the 25th anniversary of Islamic Revolution took place all over Iran. The main demonstration was held in Tehran where some 100,000 people, led by President Khatami, marched to Azadi (Freedom) Square. During the celebration several helicopters were seen flying around the scene. The ceremony began with parajumpers dropping from three different types of helicopters belonging to different forces. Above, an unidentified Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) CH-47C was the first to participate.

 

 

         
Three Iranian CH-47C Chinooks are parked on the ramp at Tehran's Mehrabad airport.

             Pictured above, three Iranian CH-47C Chinooks are parked on the ramp at Tehran's Mehrabad airport.

 

 

          Map of Iran

 

         
A map of the country of Iran.

 

 

             If you are fortunate enough to have any additional photographs or knowledge of what became of the Iranian Chinooks, please send us an email.

 

 

          Related Sites

 

          Chinook 5-4066 2nd Mishap Report

 

          Chinook 5-4066 3rd Mishap Report

 

          Chinook 5-4070 Mishap Report

 

          Chinook 5-4078 Mishap Report

 

          Chinook 5-4089 (P-043) found in Iraq

 

          Read about the Egyptian Chinooks

 

 

          The CH-47 - 40 years old and still circling the world.

         

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