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Bell CH-146 Griffon

Multirole Utility Helicopter [ 1995 ]

The Bell CH-146 Griffon utility platform continues its multirole efficiency with the Canadian Armed Forces.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 07/06/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

When Canadian Armed Forces adopted a new "do-everything" utility-minded helicopter platform in 1995, it selected the Bell 412 - a further evolution of the hugely successful Vietnam War-era "Huey" air cavalry helicopter. The Bell 412 was, itself, a further evolution of the earlier Bell 212 model though now showcasing a four-bladed, composite main rotor instead of the original two-blade system for increased performance. The Bell 412 saw its first flight in August of 1979 and Canada began local production of the product in 1989 and also saw local manufacture of Pratt & Whitney turboshaft engines. Adopted as the CH-146 "Griffon", this local Canadian variant saw its own first flight during 1992 to which then production followed for 100 units delivered into 1997 - the CH-146 is based on the Bell Model 412EP ("Enhanced Performance") offering and the Griffon's model number is CH-146CF ("Canadian Forces").

The CH-146 replaced the aging line of CH-118 helicopters then in service - these based on the original Bell UH-1 "Hueys".

The helicopter serves Canadian forces through its air force, combat support, training, and Search and Rescue (SAR) services. Some six training squadrons have made use of the type. SAR versions are painted in a bright yellow finish while military variants showcase a dark camouflage pattern. The overall design and configuration of the CH-146 is consistent with the Bell Model 412 in all ways. It features a two-seat cockpit (side-by-side seating) with excellent views out of the forward, side, and floor window panes. Access is through hinged, automobile-style doors along the fuselage sides. The passenger cabin is amidships and accessed through large, two-windowed sliding doors. Above the cabin is the twin-engine installation driving the four-blade main rotor. A drive shaft is shrouded in the tail stem leading to the two-bladed tail rotor sat to the starboard side of the vertical tail fin. The undercarriage is a low-cost, easy-to-maintain landing skid system. A typical operating crew is three to include the two pilots and an onboard flight engineer. Passenger spacing is for ten infantry/paratroopers or up to six medical litters in the MEDEVAC role. In the cockpit, avionics includes the CMC Electronics CMA-2082A Flight Management System (FMS), night vision support, and a WESCAM 16TD-A fully-stabilized Thermal Imaging System (TIS).

The CH-146 is outfitted with 2 x Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6T-34 turboshaft engines, each rated at 900 shaft horsepower. Maximum listed speed is 160 miles per hour with a cruising speed of 135 miles per hour and range out to 405 miles.

The platform can be armed for support roles by way of 7.62mm machine guns (C6 series GPMG)or miniguns (Dillon Aero M134D) fitted on pintle mountings at each cabin door. The 12.7mm GAU-21 heavy machine gun system is also supported. Additional armor can be installed for improved crew and passenger protection in active-fire warzones.

To date, CH-146s have taken part in local security and disaster relief efforts across Canada. They have also served overseas in Haiti, Bosnia/Kosovo, and - most recently - Afghanistan. The vehicles are made somewhat air-transportable in the hold of a C-130 Hercules or C-17 Globemaster III (in Canadian service as the CC-130 and CC-177 respectively) transport aircraft through removal of some outlying structural components to promote a smaller, more compact profile.

A modernization program was enacted to keep CH-146s viable in Canadian service until the early 2020s.©MilitaryFactory.com
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February 2019 - Instead of seeking a costly successor, The Canadian government has decided to extend the service lives of its existing CH-146 Griffon fleet consisting of eighty-five helicopters - keeping them operating in a frontline capacity into 2031. The modernization will be handled locally by Bell Helicopter Textron Canada and include all new cockpit displays, avionics, and updated sensors. Pratt & Whitney Canada will be supplying new PT6T 9 "TwinPac" turboshaft engines for the lot. Following a design phase, work on the fleet will begin in 2022.


Bell Helicopter - USA / Canada
Canada; United Kingdom
Operators National flag of Canada National flag of the United Kingdom
Service Year
National Origin
Project Status

Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
Extraction of wounded combat or civilian elements by way of specialized onboard equipment and available internal volume or external carrying capability.
Ability to locate and extract personnel from areas of potential harm or peril (i.e. downed airmen in the sea).
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.

56.1 ft
(17.10 meters)
45.9 ft
(14.00 meters)
15.1 ft
(4.60 meters)
6,790 lb
(3,080 kilograms)
Empty Weight
11,806 lb
(5,355 kilograms)
Maximum Take-Off Weight
+5,016 lb
(+2,275 kg)
Weight Difference

2 x Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6T-3D turboshaft engines developing 900 horsepower each driving a four-bladed main rotor and two-bladed tail rotor.
162 mph
(260 kph | 140 knots)
Max Speed
20,013 ft
(6,100 m | 4 miles)
407 miles
(655 km | 354 nm)
1,355 ft/min
(413 m/min)

MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030

Variable (only also if equipped):

2 x 7.62mm C6 machine guns OR 7.62mm Dillon Aero M134D miniguns at side fuselage doors.


CH-146 "Griffon" - Base Series Designation

General Assessment
Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
Overall Rating
The overall rating takes into account over 60 individual factors related to this aircraft entry.
Rating is out of a possible 100 points.
Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 200mph
Lo: 100mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (162mph).

Graph average of 150 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
Max Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected above are altitude, speed, and range.
Aviation Era Span
Pie graph section
Showcasing era cross-over of this aircraft design.
Unit Production (100)
Compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian).

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Image of the Bell CH-146 Griffon
Image from the United States Department of Defense imagery database.
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Image of the Bell CH-146 Griffon
Image from the United States Department of Defense imagery database.
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Image of the Bell CH-146 Griffon
Image from the United States Department of Defense imagery database.
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Image of the Bell CH-146 Griffon
Image from the United States Department of Defense imagery database.

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