Boeing could make CH-47 Block II helicopter renewal available to international customers in 2026, according to Boeing’s director of Chinook global sales.
The 2026 delivery date is dependent upon Boeing achieving full-rate production approval from the US Army in 2023 and its first full-rate production delivery that same year, Randy Rotte says this week. The upgrade is also only available to countries with CH-47Fs in their inventory, such as Australia, since Boeing does not currently have the ability to transition a CH-47D to the CH-47F Block II configuration.
Boeing is already in talks with several international customers, including Israel, Rotte says.
“There are questions being answered in Israel,” he says. “They’re in the fact finding phase.”
CH-47 Block II entered the engineering manufacturing and development phase in April and Boeing plans to delivery the first LRIP aircraft to the US Army in 2025. Block II upgrades include an improved drive train and larger aft section to accommodate a new engine in the future. But Boeing touts the Chinook’s new swept tip rotor blades as Block II’s greatest achievement. Boeing completed flight testing of the advanced composite rotor blades this month. The blades give 1,500 lb more lift capability, though Boeing had outlined a 2,000 lb lift capability as its original objective.
Meanwhile, with plans from the US Army to continue operating the Chinook into the 2060s, Boeing remains confident the service will pursue a Block III upgrade. The programme would include improved engines (GE Aviation's future affordable turbine engine -- FATE), torque management system and the BAE Systems' Active Parallel Actuator System (APAS). The latter adds a back-driven inceptor for the pilot that -- when combined with the Chinook's digital automatic flight control system -- mimics the feel of an advanced fly-by-wire system in a helicopter with mechanical controls.
BAE demonstrated the flight handling improvements of APAS on the CH-47 in 2015. Boeing plans to field the system in early 2020, if the customer chooses it.
Boeing has outlined a notional 2035 initial operational capability date for Block III, just before the transition to heavy lift rotorcraft under Future Vertical Lift capability set 5 in 2045. The Block III capabilities could also be fielded as engineering change proposals.
The improved engine could fit into the same power class as the GE's FATE engine, which falls between 5,000shp-10,000shp. Existing engines such as the Honeywell T55, Rolls-Royce AE1107C and GE T408 can achieve the same power.