Was this an homage to the same guys that delivered the US Navy DEVGRU SEAL operators to Osama Bin Laden’s hideout a year ago today? Is the MH-47 more incognito and survivable than Marine One over such a hostile territory on such a sensitive day? Whatever the true reason was, one thing can be sure, “Army One” flew over the embattled land of Afghanistan just hours ago escorted under heavy AH-64 Apache cover…


Longer video that will not embed:


UPDATED: A first hand account of the President’s covert trip to Afghanistan:


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  1. Dan says:

    I wonder if they used American or British Apaches? From what I understand the British Apaches operate better than the American AH-64 in the “hot/high” environment of Afghanistan. The better performance is due mainly to the Brits more powerful Rolls Royce engines. I never got the concept of Apache escorts for Chinooks. Don’t get me wrong I get the need for protection, but I don’t believe the AH 64 is appropriate. I mean the AH 64 is actually slower than a Chinook. There are countless cases of a Chinook evac heli having to go max speed to get a casualty back to base. Resulting in them invariably “outrunning” their Apache escorts. I may be old fashioned, but back in Vietnam Skyraider “Sandys” used to fly escort for the good old “Jolly Green Giant” rescue choppers. They were slow enough to fly with the choppers;fast enough to fly ahead and suppress rescue site; and had enough endurance to loiter over a downed pilot until the rescue choppers caught up,executed the rescue, and escort them back out. There were alot of innovations that were developed (and lessons learned) during the Vietnam era that the US military simply threw out after it was all over. Heck, even lessons from WW2 were forgotten. I mean the US navy of Gulf War 1 (the most powerful navy in the world) had a total of ZERO minesweeping vessels (and no anti- mine capability whatsoever) in their fleet, and had to depend on NATO navies to provide that service during the conflict.

    • aviationintel.com says:

      Fairly certain they were American for a sensitive op like this, further, its not hot there at all yet and they are staying in the valley as they were just headed to the Presidential Palace and back. Although their may be a top end speed differential attack helicopters are a proven asset to have for operations like this. They can scan ahead of the procession with their thermal gear, and if need be attack almost immedietly any threat in an urban area. In the event of the need for blistering speed the MH-47s are equipped with plenty of firepower to spray down their LZ etc, and yes miniguns/and or 50 cals were hung on the Presidential Chinook. Lots of other assets would have been available if a serious blunder occurred so loitering time was not that big of a deal for such a close proximity mission. I do hear you on the A-1, the LAS and eventually, if we are lucky, a USAF procured AT-6 or A-29 Super Tucano will once again fill the gap left by the retired Spad for so long now.


  2. This is not the first time Presidents have flow aboard H-47’s. When the White House Military Office is given a mission profile, especially one involving the covert insertion of POTUS in a Theater of War, they profile all aspects of the operation. Obviously, their assessment that the pre-deployment of Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) aircraft into Kabul would advertise the pending visit of POTUS. As in the past, HMX-1 Command Pilots may very well have been at the controls of the H-47 and flown POTUS. Prior to these missions, Presidential Command Pilots re-certify in all of the aircraft to be employed. Determining whether the aircraft call sign: Army One or Marine One was used would require follow-up with Officials directly involved or for research to be done on the materials when they become part of the Presidential Library System.

    • aviationintel.com says:

      James, I am familiar with how the WHMO works, but do you really believe that the President flying with the 160th SOAR on the exact anniversary of their famous flight into Abbottabad is just a coincidence? Remember, Obama went to Kentucky to meet this unit and spent a day on their base after the raid. Some on the inside have even said that Mr. Obama is enamored with the operators and crews that made it happen and rightfully so. Further, I have never heard of HMX-1 pilots being cleared to fly a highly unique platform like the MH-47G. Its not just a Chinook, it has many unique systems etc that require extensive and constant training to master. Why not just use the 160th SOAR crews in place as they are some of the best in the world and already know the platform extremely well and hold security clearances? Further, the crewchiefs that manned the MH-47Gs guns that night, are you saying they were HMX-1 crews? I highly doubt that. There is much more that goes into learning a system like the H-47, an aircraft not even in USMC inventory, and being fully proficient in it with lots of experience than just getting a certification, especially for nighttime, lights out/NVG goggles on, multiship operations with armed escorts. Further, such crews would need to know the area very well for contingency purposes. As far as the call-sign, it may not have been Army One, but as you know any aircraft the POTUS is on that is “owned” by one of the services is referred to as “XXX ONE.”

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