Boeing announced on 3 January that the company will upgrade all 17 of Spain’s CH-47D CHINOOK helicopters to the F-model configuration, adding features such as the digital automatic flight control system, common avionics architecture system and advanced cargo handling to align that country’s fleet with those of other nations. Deliveries are to begin in 2021.
This is the first order from a non-US customer placed through a contract Boeing and the US Army signed in July, covering six new F-models for the US and options for up to 150 more CHINOOKs for US and international customers.
“The CHINOOK is a versatile aircraft flown by eight NATO nations, including Spain,” said Chuck Dabundo, Vice President, Cargo and Utility Helicopters and H-47 Program Manager. “With this contract, Spain’s CHINOOK crews will enjoy the platform’s current technology and capability, while the country gets an affordable upgrade that builds on its existing H-47 investment.”
The CH-47F is a twin-engine, tandem rotor, heavy-lift helicopter. In addition to the US Army and Special Operations Forces, CHINOOKs are currently in service or under contract with 19 international defence forces. It can fly at speeds exceeding 175mph and carry payloads greater than 21,000lbs. In 2017, Boeing and the US Army announced development of CH-47F Block II, which will incorporate a new rotor blade, redesigned fuel system, improved drivetrain and structural improvements to the fuselage.
Conceptually, the CHINOOK Block II programme will bolster the US Army CH-47Fs by integrating new technologies – including the Advanced CHINOOK rotor blades, redesigned fuel tanks, an enhanced fuselage and an improved drivetrain – all aimed at increasing payload, providing commonality across the fleet and creating a foundation for affordable future upgrades. The Army Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne)’s MH-47Gs will also be modernised in this programme.
The US Army’s CHINOOK Block II helicopter programme achieved acquisition Milestone B on 5 April 2017. The programme engineering, manufacturing and development (EMD) contract was awarded in July 2017.
Initially the engineering, manufacturing and development contract will support building three test aircraft with the follow-on programme of record consisting of 473 CH-47F Block II aircraft and 69 MH-47G Block II aircraft. The first three aircraft have already been inducted into Boeing and loaded the primary assembly line. For more on this, please read here.
The CHINOOK is on order or operated by 20 countries, including eight NATO nations – Canada, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the US. Concurrently, Boeing has established a global network of suppliers, and companies in other programme life cycle support rolls. For instance, the German-based Aircraft Philipp Group GmbH is on contract to deliver machine parts for the global fleet of H-47 CHINOOKs. Another business, Newington, Connecticut (US)-based PCX Aerostructures, LLC, builds and provides complex, flight critical assemblies for the CHINOOK.
Germany’s Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) approved plans to buy 45-60 new heavy-lift helicopters, kicking off a competition between Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin (CH-53K) and Boeing (CH-47 CHINOOK) for the contract worth nearly €4 billion. In a press conference during ILA 2018, Boeing and ten German aerospace companies reached agreements to partner on a range of business opportunities on the H-47 CHINOOK, a contender in Germany’s STH heavy-lift helicopter competition. Story here.