Forthcoming competitions in Australia and Canada, coupled with a bulging orderbook for domestic modernisations, mean that Boeing is at Asian Aerospace with a positive story to tell about the CH-47 Chinook heavylift helicopter.
Chinook competition Australia Canada W250The Australian government is looking at an additional purchase of Chinooks as part of a 10-year capability plan being developed by the Department of Defence. Australia has a long-standing requirement for battlefield lift capability and is juggling the options ahead of plans to phase out its fleet of Royal Australian Air Force de Havilland DHC-4 Caribous.
Boeing director of international business development for rotorcraft programmes, Tom Cunningham, says both opportunities are “near term” and with Canada and Australia committed to coalition operations in Afghanistan, heavylift and transport capability is likely to move up the agenda still further.
Cunningham says the work done by Singapore-based Chinooks during the Asian tsunami recovery and relief effort last year demonstrated the value of the aircraft. Canada is currently without any heavylift capability having sold its CH-47D fleet to the Netherlands during the 1990s.
Cunningham says that the experience Boeing had in creating a lean manufacturing line for the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter in Mesa, Arizona has paid off with an equally well honed operation on the Chinook line in Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia production line is currently producing two to three aircraft a month and the first new-build aircraft in the CH-47F modernisation programme entered assembly last month.

The US Army intends to buy 513 modernised Chinooks over the next decade, including another 452 CH-47Fs and 61 CH-47Ds rebuilt to MH-47G standard for the US Special Operations Command.
A total of 55 of the F-model aircraft will be acquired with all-new airframes and dynamic components, with the remaining 397 to receive new cockpits, fuselages and aft sections, but retain and reuse the rotor systems, transmissions and drive train.

Source: Flight Daily News