US airframer Boeing is looking at expanding the global list of CH-47 Chinook operators by developing a secondary market for used aircraft.

The still-nascent concept follows a February decision by the US Army to pursue a full-rate production agreement for Boeing’s latest Chinook variant – the CH-47F Block II.

That decision, part of a broader aviation fleet strategy rolled out by the army, ensures decades of new production work for Boeing’s Chinook assembly lines in Philadelphia – opening the door for smaller operators of the existing CH-47F Block I to potentially modernise existing fleets.

Italian_Army ch47F-c-Italian army

Source: Italian army/Wikimedia Commons

Boeing lists 20 global operators of the heavy-lift CH-47 Chinook, including Italy, with 21 examples, according to Cirium

If existing Chinook operators – whose ranks include Canada, Greece, India, Italy, Japan and others – opt to upgrade their fleets with the latest Block II airframe, the older Block I models could become an affordable entry point for governments seeking to develop a heavy-lift capability.

“We’re going to have additional countries that are coming and asking for used aircraft, as certain countries procure the Block II,” says Mark Ballew, Boeing’s head of business development for vertical lift.

Ballew spoke to FlightGlobal on 24 April at the US Army’s annual aviation summit in Denver, Colorado.

While he declines to provide specific examples, Ballew says Boeing is already fielding inquiries on the possibility of acquiring used examples of the CH-47F.

“New countries that have not operated the Chinook have come through and said, ‘how can we get the older aircraft? And how do you set up a sustainment programme?’,” he says.

CH-47F Germany

Source: Boeing

Germany plans to buy 60 of the latest Block II Chinooks, with an estimated value of $8.5 billion. Boeing and Berlin are in the late stages of negotiating a final contract covering delivery and sustainment of the new fleet

Heather McBryan, Boeing’s CH-47 programme manager, confirms the company is already seeing “strong interest” from international customers in the Block II Chinook, including from current operators of the Block I variant.

Ballew expresses confidence that many current operators will eventually opt to upgrade.

“Every customer that’s ever had a Chinook has come back and gotten an additional Chinook,” Ballew says.

He cites Egypt, South Korea and Spain as examples of operators who added subsequent CH-47F orders to their initial buy.

While any new aircraft orders would be handled through the US government’s Foreign Military Sales process, Ballew says Boeing will be involved in any discussions of a third-party transfer of used rotorcraft.

“We help facilitate some of those government-to-government conversations of how we can expand the fleet base,” he says.

Separately, Boeing is also working with Germany to finalise a CH-47F production agreement for that country’s aircraft.

The German defence ministry in 2022 announced its intent to acquire 60 Block II Chinooks, with the Boeing twin-rotor type defeating Sikorsky’s latest CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift platform.

Lawmakers in Berlin subsequently approved €7.9 billion ($8.5 billion) to fund the acquisition.

Ballew says Boeing is currently ironing out the terms of that contract, including local production agreements.