The Italian army is to receive 16 ICH-47F Chinook transport helicopters between 2013 and 2017 through a roughly €900 million ($1.23 billion) acquisition.

The Boeing-designed aircraft will be assembled by AgustaWestland under the terms of a partnership deal signed last July. The sale also includes an option to increase the order by a further four examples.

To replace the army's remaining 26 CH-47Cs - 40 of which entered use from 1973 - the transports will be supported for an initial five years under a logistics deal agreed with the Finmeccanica company. The aircraft will be operated from the army's Viterbo air base.

AgustaWestland also has approval to market and licence-build CH-47Fs for potential future European customers including the UK, it says.

Alessandro Parrini, senior vice president of AgustaWestland's Italian government business unit, says the new deal "will provide a significant contribution to the modernisation of the Italian army helicopter fleet.” It also "further strengthens the strategic partnership between the company and the service," he adds.

The Italian sale represents Boeing's first international success with the F-model Chinook, more than 60 of which have already been delivered to the US Army. Canada has previously also selected the type, but has yet to conclude a contract for a planned 16 aircraft. Australia also recently announced its intention to buy seven of the aircraft.