The first ICH-47F Chinook for the Italian army conducted its debut flight on 24 June from AgustaWestland's Vergiate site in northern Italy. The helicopter was flown for 15min, "carrying out basic handling tests and main systems checks", the company says.
Under an agreement with Boeing, AgustaWestland is acting as prime contractor during the completion of 16 ICH-47Fs, and will perform system integration, final assembly and delivery. The type's fuselage is built at Boeing's Ridley Park site in Philadelphia.
Handover of the first example is planned for early 2014, with the last to be transferred in 2017. The defence ministry's order also includes an option for another four.
The customised version of the CH-47F will be operated by the Italian Army Aviation's 1st Regiment, based in Viterbo, and replace the service's remaining CH-47C+ Chinooks.
Powered by two Honeywell T55-714A engines, the ICH-47F has a maximum take-off weight of 23t, and offers enhanced performance under "hot and high" operating conditions.
Modifications made for the Italian army include the integration of an obstacle warning navigation system and a Selex ES communications, navigation and identification suite, including secure and satellite communication radios and datalinks. The type's self-protection suite will include laser, missile and radar warning receivers, respectively from Selex ES, Cassidian and Elettronica, plus chaff and flare dispensers. Active protection will be provided by 7.62mm machine guns or Gatling guns.
Under its agreement with Boeing, AgustaWestland is also licensed to market, sell and produce the CH-47F for other European countries, and several nations in the Mediterranean.