Netherlands to advance rotorcraft order, as Boeing agrees manufacturing partnership to meet European needs
The Dutch parliament is poised to approve a defence ministry plan to purchase six Boeing CH-47F Chinook transport helicopters, with a production preparation agreement with the US manufacturer set to expire on 16 February.
Worth almost €390 million ($508 million), the deal is intended to replace two D-model Chinooks lost in Afghanistan during 2005, and introduce a further four aircraft by late 2010 to meet a heavy-lift helicopter shortfall.
The new helicopters will increase the number of Chinooks assigned to the Royal Netherlands Air Force's 289 Sqn to 17, but earlier plans to fit them out to support Special Forces personnel have been postponed on cost grounds.
The six CH-47Fs would increase the fleet to 17
However, all six will be delivered with provisions for the extra equipment, which could later be installed in the Netherlands.
A separate plan to modernise the cockpits of the service's current CH-47Ds to the F-model standard has also been deferred until they receive a mid-life upgrade.
Holland's CH-47Fs will receive Block 6 avionics control and management system cockpits, plus weather radars, icing detection systems, fast-rope installations and long-range communications equipment. The air force's annual costs for operating the Chinook fleet are, meanwhile, expected to rise by €6.5 million following the acquisition.
Boeing last week signed a memorandum of understanding with European manufacturer AgustaWestland to offer its CH-47F Chinook to meet the operational requirements of the Italian army, plus an additional future rotorcraft opportunity in the UK. The companies say the new pact will enable them to "offer effective and economic joint solutions for future heavylift rotorcraft requirements", with AgustaWestland to serve as prime contractor for European bids involving the type.
Italy operates CH-47Cs to perform peacekeeping, humanitarian aid and disaster relief tasks and has deployed the type to support its troops in operational theatres including Afghanistan.