US Army-Boeing programme may release a dozen CH-47Ds a year for potential sale to Argentina, Chile or Brazil

Argentina, Chile and Brazil have emerged as key targets for the sale of surplus Boeing CH-47D Chinook transport helicopters, under a revised joint US Army-Boeing Cargo Helicopter Alternative Procurement Strategy (CHAPS). The programme is expected to receive final US Department of Defense approval around mid-year, releasing eight to 12 aircraft to the market each year from 2008.

It was expected that the CHAPS programme would be based on transfers via the US foreign military sales infrastructure, but is now more likely to proceed as a commercial arrangement co-ordinated by Boeing. A final decision on the sale mechanism will be made as part of the pending approvals process. All revenues from sales will be used to offset the cost of new-build US Army CH-47Fs under a concession-rate purchase deal negotiated with Boeing.

George Zabokrtsky, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems’ Americas regional manager, says the company is working with the US Army to ascertain the condition of aircraft to be released under the programme, and to set a commercial price. A secondhand CH-47D is expected to sell for around half the commercial list price of a new-build CH-47F, he says. Boeing is now seeking expressions of interest in the surplus aircraft to determine priorities given the low numbers available.

Argentina is the most likely South American buyer in the near term, as it is now operating just one of its original five CH-47s, with a second being cannibalised for spares.

Chile is seen as a medium-term prospect, with its air force and army interested in a heavylift capability after their medium and light helicopter requirements have been met. “We think the aircraft is a natural fit here [in Chile],” says Richard Meanour, manager CH-47 international business development for Boeing.

Brazil has previously conducted a heavylift helicopter competition, but terminated the effort. Venezuela’s suitability in the long-term may be contingent on a shift in current US government policy towards the nation.

Source: Flight International