Boeing’s CH-47F CHINOOK medium-lift rotorcraft has become an advanced multi-mission helicopter for the US Army and international defence forces. As the doors open for AUSA 2019, the airframer is building CHINOOKs under a foreign military sales arrangement with the US government for a number of international customers, including the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia.
In one significant business development, Boeing confirms it is ready to support its longtime customers in Israel, and is looking forward to working with the Israeli Air Force (IAF) to meet the service’s future heavy-lift helicopter needs. Competing neck-to-neck with Boeing to provide this follow-on helicopter fleet is the Sikorsky CH-53K KING STALLION – the same pairing that is also competing for a long-standing German requirement.
Chuck Dabundo, Boeing Vice President and H-47 Program Manager, built the case for the down-select of the CHINOOK in the Israeli competition, pointing out, “An extended range CHINOOK will provide the IAF a highly capable, multi-mission helicopter offering the most advanced technology to meet future missions, low production and fielding risk, and extremely affordable acquisition and operational costs. In October of 2018, Boeing and the Israeli Industrial Cooperation Authority of the Ministry of Economy signed an agreement that confirms Boeing’s continued commitment to implement industrial cooperation projects with Israeli companies. We are constantly reevaluating the business environment to determine opportunities to bring in new suppliers from countries across the globe, including in Israel.”
Back in the US, the first engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) CH-47F Block II aircraft is currently in developmental flight test, with the second one starting its test programme shortly. “Development flight test occurs at our Mesa [AZ] facility. The third and final EMD aircraft is nearly complete,” Mr Dabundo stated, concluding, “We are also currently under contract for 15 MH-47G Block II CHINOOKs for Special Operations, which we are building at our factory now.”
In another major CH-47F programme development, Boeing is moving forward under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), with GE Aviation and the US Army, to test T408 engines on a CHINOOK. While there is no service programme of record for a new engine for the CH-47F, the CRADA partners are examining the increased payload and other capabilities of the T408 — using Army-installed aft mounts on the CH-47F.