Australia has approved the purchase of seven Boeing CH-47F Chinook helicopters for A$755 million ($670 million).
The first two helicopters will enter service in 2014 and all seven will be operational by 2017, says the Australian Government. The helicopters will replace the Australian army's six older CH-47D helicopters.
"These new helicopters will give the Australian Defence Force (ADF) a robust, deployable medium-lift helicopter capability out to 2040," says Australia's defence minister John Faulkner.
"While the existing fleet of 'D' model Chinooks had provided outstanding support to the ADF since entering service in 1995, the aircraft faced increasing capability and support issues."
© Australian Department of Defence
This "second pass approval" comes after Australia said during its 2009 defence white paper that it could buy the CH-47F to augment its army's medium-lift capabilities.
The "F" models offer a range of improvements including a strengthened airframe to reduce fatigue, improved deployability, and digital systems, says the defence ministry. "The new Australian Chinooks will also receive some additional ADF-specific equipment to meet certain operational and safety requirements," adds Faulkner.
Canberra will buy the helicopters and maintain them in the same broad configuration as the US Army Chinooks, "providing enhanced benefits to the ADF in areas including spares, support, training and airworthiness", says the ministry.
"The Government will consider whether to participate in the US Chinook Product Improvement Program when information on this programme is of second pass quality. Participation in this program would align the configuration of Australian Chinooks with future US Army Chinooks," says Faulkner.