RNLAF waits on Chinook delivery

Amsterdam
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Holland is close to receiving the first three Boeing CH-47F Chinooks dating from a 2007 order for six of the heavy transport helicopters.

The airframes for the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) are in transit to the port of Antwerp. From there they will be shipped to Woensdrecht for final assembly.

Originally due to be handed over in 2009, development problems with the type's Honeywell Block 6 avionics suite have delayed their arrival. Official delivery is now scheduled for October, when the Chinooks will be added to the RNLAF's 298 Sqn at Gilze-Rijen air base.

Three further aircraft will be permanently stationed at the US Army's Fort Hood site in Texas for training purposes, alongside eight of the RNLAF's Boeing AH-64D Apache attack helicopters.

The RNLAF already operates 11 D-model Chinooks according to Flightglobal's HeliCAS database. The Dutch government had initially planned to upgrade these to the F-model standard, but in May this year defence minister Hans Hillen raised the possibility of scrapping the upgrade in favour of an 11-unit order of CH-47Fs.

Although initial costs would rise, the RNLAF's Chinook fleet could remain operational until at least 2045, rather than 2035 with the upgraded D-models.

Whether this change will be upheld is uncertain and depends on the outcome of September's general election.