The US had to abandon seven CH-46E heavy lift helicopters in the capital Kabul after they completed their mission to evacuate embassy staff. To avoid the Taliban using this line of helicopters, the US disabled them so they could not work.
The image of CH-46E helicopters flying over the roof of the US embassy to evacuate diplomatic staff has become a sad symbol not only for Americans but also for the people of Afghanistan after the Taliban entered the capital Kabul.
These CH-46E helicopters belong to the US State Department, after they completed the evacuation of personnel to Hamid Karzai International Airport, the US military had to leave it because they could not stay in a place like a hell. “The US State Department left seven CH-46 helicopters in Afghanistan, which have been disabled and are no longer operational,” the US State Department official said on August 19.
Although this official also explained the abandonment that: “These Ch-46E helicopters are gradually being phased out of service, and should have been disintegrated due to their long service life and maintenance problems”, but Many observers say that what is happening in Afghanistan is not what the US wants.
It is not clear what the fate of the HH-60L medium helicopters that were deployed by the US diplomatic mission in Kabul earlier this year will be. The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has said that the State Department has registered to use 23 CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters, But it is not clear at this time how many CH-46Es remain in the service and where they are operating.
These CH-46E helicopters formerly belonged to the US Marines, they were handed over to the US State Department in 2012. After handing over, they were overhauled and restored to like-new condition to serve the US Department of State.
The CH-46E squadron, operated by private contractors, is the primary means of transport for US diplomats between the embassy in Kabul and Hamid Karzai International Airport, as well as many other locations in Afghanistan.
A squadron of CH-46Es and several military helicopters were deployed for the direct non-combatant evacuation (NEO) operation in Kabul. According to the Pentagon, this is one of the largest NEO operations in history, and possibly the last major mission with the US government’s CH-46E Sea Knights.
CH-46 was developed in the 1950s, the first flight took place on April 222, 1958. It was officially entered service in 1964. A total of 524 aircraft were produced between 1960-1971 for service in the US and allied armies. After a long service life, the CH-46 helicopter was officially retired in the US Navy in 2004 and in the US Marines in 2015.
After decommissioning, some CH-46s were upgraded to the CH-46E standard and served only with the US State Department. CH-46 has a crew of 5, including 2 pilots, 1 crew chief, 2 machine gunners. This helicopter has a length of 13.67 m, a height of 5.11 m, an empty weight of 7,047 kg, a maximum take-off weight of 11,022 kg. It can carry 24 fully equipped soldiers or 15 stretchers.
For maneuverability, CH-46 is equipped with two General Electric T58-GE-16 engines, each with a capacity of 1,870 horsepower, helping the aircraft reach a maximum speed of 267km/h, a range of 1,020 km, and a ceiling of 5,200 m.
From the CH-46, the US has successfully developed the legendary heavy helicopter CH-47. Compared to its predecessor, the CH-47 is larger in size, produced in more numbers, and is also more popular. They are still in active service in the US military.