Since 2001, a U.S. Army Technical Assistance Fielding Team has provided technical expertise on the Boeing CH-47D Chinook to the Egyptian Air Force. For the Egyptians, this team is a wealth of knowledge in the realm of training, maintenance, and even combat tactics. According to the Egyptians, the TAFT’s professionalism has made a well-trained, capable force, and a valuable asset to the EAF for the past 13 years.
The EAF is very proficient at maintaining the Chinook. However, there is only one Egyptian CH-47 squadron, as opposed to numerous within the United States. Thus, when a difficult maintenance issue arises, the Egyptians cannot draw from the experiences of sister units, as U.S. units can. Therefore, the TAFT plays a vital role in making contact with very specialized people who have dealt with a variety of issues. The TAFT is also a direct link with Program Managers and Army Engineering Department, which have contacts with the manufacturers such as Boeing and Honeywell. Without the TAFT, the EAF would otherwise face many delays in their maintenance program.
The EAF has relied on many U.S. military schools to train their aviators and technicians throughout the years. This year, the TAFT brought a new program to the EAF that would not only create great savings, but will also help maintain the level of expertise they have within their squadron for years to come. These two programs include a Flight Engineer Course and an Instructor Pilot Course. The TAFT helped develop these courses with the partnership of the EAF. Both courses are in the approval stage, and the TAFT will help implement the courses. The two courses have a been a priority for the TAFT, but it has also done many other training events with the EAF to include hoist training, NVG flying, and aircrew coordination training, among others. Training is an ongoing process in every aviation community, and the TAFT is a major contributor to the training of the Egyptian Chinook Helicopter Squadron.
The EAF is revising its tactics, techniques, and procedures after militants in the Sinai shot down an Egyptian Mi-17 earlier this year. The result is that the EAF plans every flight as if it were a combat mission, drawing heavily from the experiences of the American TAFT. TAFT personnel recommended various new equipment and many different flying techniques to keep the Egyptian aircrews safe from the threats they are now facing. The EAF implemented many of these flight techniques and are in negotiations to purchase the equipment the TAFT recommended.
The TAFT has the main responsibility of advising the EAF on several different subject areas but it has other roles besides building a capability. According to TAFT personnel, plays an important role is building trust, relationships and friendships between the two nations. The CH-47 TAFT has a great relationship with its Egyptian counterparts, and TAFT members hope the many friendships developed are an enduring relationship.