There are many names for it: some call it the Battle Phrog, its official name is the Sea Knight. Whatever the Marines called the CH- 46, it was a
workhorse in the fleet — and now it is officially retired.
The last operational squadron still flying CH-46s
flew the medium-lift helicopter for the last time in
April, more than 50 years after it flew for the first time.
Its exit dramatically changes the future of medium lift
in the Marine Corps.
The Navy retired the CH- 46 in 2004 in favor of the
MH-60S Seahawk, but it was not until this year that the
Marines officially ended their dependence on the aircraft,
throwing its entire burden officially on the MV- 22 Osprey
tiltrotor, which entered service eight years ago.
In an April 9 ceremony at Marine Corps Base Camp
Pendleton, Calif., the Marines officially said goodbye
to the CH- 46, ushering in a new age with an entirely
different aircraft fulfilling its mission.
Maj Paul Greenberg, a Marine Corps spokesman, said
in an e-mail to Seapower that although the CH- 46 has been
a workhorse for the Marines for decades, a need for a
replacement was identified all the way back in 1969. It was
not until February 1995 that the MV-
22 was selected by the Marines to be
that replacement, and what followed
were many years of development
headaches and mishaps that further
pushed back the in-service date of
the Osprey and led to many calling
for its cancellation.
In 2007, the Osprey finally
shipped off to Iraq to begin operations. Since then, it has steadily
proved its worth and encouraged
the Marines to depend more on the
new platform and less on the aging
“The CH- 46 Sea Knight faithfully served the Corps for more than
half a century,” Greenberg said.
“The MV- 22 Osprey, which has replaced the CH- 46,
has transformed the way the Marine Corps conducts
As the V- 22 heads out to the Asia-Pacific region to support operations there — especially since it recently was
selected as the replacement for the C- 2 Greyhound as the
carrier onboard delivery aircraft — the CH- 46 is headed
to the museum. The final CH-46E ceremonial flight was
held on Aug. 1 at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., where it flew
to the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.
Now the MV- 22 will provide an entirely different
tool for the Marines, with its ability to turn into an aircraft mid-flight and, therefore, travel at greater distances. The MV- 22 has amassed a total of 233,000
flight hours to date, according to Greenberg.
The MV- 22 also will be able to handle a bigger payload, he said, as well as double the speed of the CH- 46.
It will have 60 percent more range than any other
rotorcraft, and be capable of doing aerial refueling.
“The MV-22B is an extremely maneuverable aircraft
with a large and versatile operating flight envelope
Farewell to the Phrog
After five decades in service, the CH- 46 is bowing out to the V- 22
By DANIEL P. TAYLOR, Special Correspondent
Transforming Assault Support
The CH- 46 Sea Knight medium-lift tandem-rotor transport helicopter — a Marine Corps workhorse since 1964 — has been officially replaced in the fleet by the MV- 22 Osprey tiltrotor.
■ The final CH-46E ceremonial flight was held Aug. 1 at Naval
Station Norfolk, Va., where it flew to the National Air and Space
Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.
■ The MV- 22 will provide an entirely different tool for the
Marines, with its ability to turn into an aircraft mid-flight and,
therefore, travel greater distances.
■ The Osprey also will be able to handle a bigger payload than
the Sea Knight, as well as double its speed.