German lawmakers have approved a deal to purchase 60 Boeing CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters for the country’s armed forces.
The budget committee of Germany’s Bundestag voted on 5 July to support the acquisition of the latest Block II version of the venerable tandem-rotor CH-47F. The deal is valued at $8.5 billion.
“Together with our Chinook Deutschland team we have committed ourselves to optimally supporting the Bundeswehr’s requirements for a new heavy-lift helicopter,“ Boeing says.
Local industrial partners include Airbus Helicopters Deutschland, CAE GmbH, Honeywell Aerospace, Lufthansa Technik and Rolls-Royce Deutschland.
The announcement from Berlin comes as Boeing launches what is expected to be the final production round of Block I CH-47s, which includes 18 aircraft for South Korea and a single Chinook for Spain. Boeing on 5 July said that $793 deal would see Block I production conclude in 2027.
Germany selected the CH-47F over Sikorsky’s CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lifter following a competitive bid. The country currently operates 80 older CH-53G rotorcraft, according to Cirium data.
While funding approval from the German parliament is not the final step of the procurement process, it does represent the clearing of a potentially significant hurdle in the Chinook acquisition. Sikorsky had been hinting in recent months that the lack of funding approval in Berlin indicated a potential opening for a CH-53K sale.
With funding approved, the German government will sign an official letter of acceptance with the Pentagon, formalising the terms of the deal. Boeing will then work with Washington to enter a formal contract for production, delivery and sustainment of the aircraft.
With Washington, Berlin and Boeing all committed to the sale, the parties are highly likely to reach an agreement on such a contract.
Arms regulators at the US Department of State approved the sale of 60 Chinooks to Germany in May – another critical milestone.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of a NATO ally which is an important force for political and economic stability in Europe,” the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said.
The recent approvals represent a major win for Boeing, which is actively seeking new orders for the Block II Chinook to power its CH-47 production line in Philadelphia. Notably, Berlin will be joining the UK as the only international operators to order the latest variant of the twin-rotor helicopter.
Even the US Army has not formally committed to full-rate procurement of Block II CH-47s, though it has purchased a limited number of helicopters under low-rate production – but only after being mandated to do so by Congress. Thus far, funding has been approved for 10 Block II Chinooks, with Boeing expected to deliver the first aircraft to the army in 2024.
Army aviation leaders have said they hope before 2024 to better define the service’s future heavy-lift rotary aircraft requirements – which may or may not include a larger fleet of CH-47F Block IIs.
“The army is going to make a decision on the future of the cargo fleet this calendar year,” Major General Robert Barrie, who oversees army aviation procurement, said at the annual army aviation conference in April.
Separately, Boeing is producing the MH-47G special-operations variant of the Chinook for the army’s secretive 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, which provides flight support to the USA’s most-elite troops.
With the future of American CH-47 orders uncertain, Boeing has been counting on deals from foreign governments to keep Chinook production humming.
In addition to 60 Block IIs on order from Germany, the company holds commitments for 47 Block I Chinooks, which include the orders from Spain and South Korea, as well as Egypt.