On 22 December, 2021 the last CH-47D Chinook of 298 Squadron "Grizzlies", Royal Netherlands Air Force made its final flight, flying around the Netherlands. The helicopter started its journey at the GLV5, low level training grounds, for some action for the present photographers. After 10 minutes the Chinook continued its journey visiting all airbases, training grounds and barracks of the 11th Air Mobility Brigade in the morning.
In the afternoon the National Military Museum at former Soesterberg Airbase was visited as this was once home to the 298 Squadron, when it started flying the Chinook helicopter 25 years ago. The take-off from the museum grounds was the last operational take-off ever of the mighty green machine. It flew to its final resting place at Woensdrecht Airbase, after making a last fly-past at Gilze-Rijen Airbase.
Luckily at least four airframes will be saved in The Netherlands; two helicopters will be used as instructional airframes, one will be placed in front of the squadron building and one will be displayed in the National Military Museum.
This blog is dedicated to the trustworthy workhorse of the 298 Squadron in service with the RNLAF, showing pictures of the different airframes over the years.
RNLAF CH-47D Chinook
With the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of the cold war the Dutch armed forces changed its strategy from a relative static to an expeditionary force. Key to this strategy would be the possibility of a rapid response at multiple places at the same time requiring air mobility. This concept became the start of the Dutch 11th Air Mobility Brigade, which would be supported by transport and combat helicopters. As a consequence the Dutch Ministry of Defence (MoD) ordered from 1993 on new CH-47 Chinook, AH-64D Apache and AS532U2 Cougar helicopters for support of the ground troops.
On 2 July 1993 the contract was signed for the buy of seven second hand CH-47C Chinooks from the Canadian Armed Forces. The helicopters would be updated by Boeing. In December 1993 another contract was signed with Boeing for the buy of an additional six factory fresh CH-47D Chinooks. The first aircraft arrived in December 1995, all 13 helicopters were assigned to the 298 Squadron.
All thirteen helicopters were equipped with glass cockpits, the Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) system, and had weather radar incorporated into the nose.
The Chinooks with serials D-661 - D-667, were the ex-Canadian converted C-model Chinooks. The Chinooks with serials D-101 - D-106, were the brand new D-model helicopters.
The Canadian bought Chinooks dating back to 1974 received a thorough update and modification by Boeing. Beside modern communications equipment and new avionics, the D-model also had greater lifting capability. Three hooks under the aircraft could carry a load up to 12,700 kgs, which was twice as much as its predecessors could carry.
From the start of operating the Chinook, the 298 Squadron has been on multiple NATO and UN missions ranging from Kosovo to Eritrea.
In 2003-2004 the squadron operated from Tallil airbase in Iraq to support the 1e Dutch Marines Battalion as part of the Stabilisation Force Iraq (SFIR). The Chinooks were used for medical evacuation and general support missions.
From 2005 until 2010 the squadron operated with intervals in the war against terrorism during Operation Enduring Freedom supporting Dutch Army and Marines special forces. The aircraft were based at Kandahar Air Field in Southern Afghanistan and operated together with Australian, British and American aircraft.
The squadron successfully supported many missions and one crew was awarded with royal decorations for bravery. Actually one of the awarded pilots flew the Chinook for the very last time! However during the mission in Afghanistan two Chinooks were lost. One crashed after losing sight during a brown-out landing and the other made a forced landing high in the mountains and had to be destroyed as an airlift was impossible.
From April 2014 the squadron operated in Mali for three years under the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation UN Mission (Minusma). Together with Dutch AH-64D Apaches of 301 Squadron the Chinooks were responsible for medical evacuation and transport of personnel and material.
298 Squadron "Grizzlies" history
The 298 Squadron originates back to the end of World War II, when on 16 April 1945 the Nr. 6 Dutch Auster Squadron was founded at Gilze-Rijen Air Base in the Netherlands. The squadron flew 10 Taylorcraft Auster Mk. II light transport aircraft with RAF roundels, but with Dutch orange triangles on the nose and was responsible for the transport of officials around the demolished country shortly after the war.
In 1946 the squadron was renamed 6. ARVA (artillery reconnaissance unit) and sent to the former Dutch Indies, where it operated for two years and lost 21 members during the fierce fights over independence.
After its return home the squadron was assigned to NATO and gave up its number to the RAF and continued as 298 Squadron. In the following years the squadron operated Piper L-18C Super Cubs and switched in June 1955 to helicopters with the arrival of the first Hiller H-23B Raven helicopter. From 1959 it also operated six Aérospatiale Alouette-II helicopters as SAR/TAR (Search-and-Rescue/Tactical Air Rescue) flight. In 1964 the conversion to the new Aérospatiale Alouette III helicopter started. During a period of four years the 298 Squadron operated both the Alouette III and MBB Bo-105C, however the squadron became an Alouette III only squadron in 1979 and continued operating this type until 1996.
The official squadron logo is the dragonfly, however since the Chinook period the Grizzly bear has become the squadron mascotte. The motto of 298 Squadron is "nihil nobis nimium", meaning 'nothing is too much for us'. It expresses the determination of the unit to fulfill its missions under any circumstance.
All D-models received a name over the years.
D-101 "The Philly Connection"
D-102 "Big Spender"
D-661 "Red October"
D-662 "Lady Liberty"
D-664 "Sling King"
D-666 "The Beast"