An agreement between Boeing and the Netherlands Ministry of Defence was signed on 14 December for the upgrade six Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) CHINOOK helicopters to the latest F-model configuration, ensuring commonality of systems for its entire fleet of 20 F-models. Deliveries of the six modernised CHINOOKs are planned to begin in 2021.
The upgrade to a common configuration will improve operational effectiveness, maintenance and affordability. A key feature includes advanced operational capabilities provided by the common avionics architecture system cockpit with an integrated digital automatic flight control system. The common avionics architecture system also aligns with the US Army and other allies, improving worldwide interoperability, flight-handling characteristics, and long-term sustainability.
“DMO is responsible for providing the Dutch Armed Forces with the best equipment money can buy, and our troops deserve that,” Colonel Koen van Gogh, the Netherlands’ Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) project leader, said. “Ever since their introduction in the mid-1990s, the CHINOOKs have been continuously involved in almost all of our missions abroad, but also in disaster relief operations and in domestic support. A true versatile workhorse of our defense organisation.”
“Our longstanding close partnership with the Netherlands played an important role in achieving their objective of a standardized fleet of CH-47F CHINOOKs,” Chuck Dabundo, Vice President, Boeing Cargo Helicopters, and H-47 Program Manager, continued. “Worldwide interest in CHINOOKs continues to grow. This is the eighth international order since 2015, and it grows the operational CHINOOK fleet within NATO. There is no doubt the CHINOOK is the world’s premier heavy-lift helicopter with a long future [that] will continue to serve our customers for decades to come.”
In 2016, the Netherlands acquired 14 CH-47F CHINOOKs through the US Department of Defense’s Foreign Military Sales programme. To date, Boeing has delivered more than 900 H-47 CHINOOK helicopters. The CHINOOK is on order or operated by 20 countries, including eight NATO nations – Canada, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the US.
Boeing is currently in competition for the German Air Force’s heavy lift helicopter (STH), offering the CHINOOK. With the Netherlands already operating the system, if Germany opts for it, it could enhance interoperability and commonality and reduce costs.