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PARIS: Boeing hunting Chinook sales to fill multiyear buy

Boeing is searching for about 35 Chinook CH-47F sales to fill the production options remaining on its second multiyear procurement contract with the US Army.

The contract, awarded in 2013, secures 155 of the heavy-lift helicopters for the Army, and 60 options were included to support foreign military sales.

Just 25 of those options have been awarded as of May, and the US Defense Department’s display of its latest F-model CH-47 at the show could be the opportunity Boeing needs to secure more orders.

The company’s cargo helicopter business development director Randy Rotte says the lead time for delivery is about 36 months from the initial contract award.

“Those options can be exercises not just by foreign military sales but also the US government,” he said at a pre-Paris media briefing. “It could be FMS, it could be wartime replacement aircraft.”

The company’s Chinook production house in Philadelphia is currently setup to build five aircraft per month, and the final Army delivery of the 2013-2017 multiyear is slated for November 2019. “Thirty-six per year is our lowest number if no other sales come in,” Rotte says.

CH-47Fs are delivered new and “renew” – which is essentially a zero-timed, new airframe delivered with restored parts. The new avionics suite and “digital automatic flight control system” are the most noticeable improvements over the D-model.

“Literally you can put the aircraft in a hover and let go of the controls and it will hold you right there,” Rotte explains. “You can fly a programmed flight route, so image if you’re in a dust cloud, you don’t have to worry about whether you’re drifting or not.”

There are current 875 Chinooks operated by 18 nations. Boeing also delivers the extended-range MH-47G to US special operations forces and a Block II version is in design. Boeing is confident the US Army will establish a third multiyear buy once the current contract expires.

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