The Australian Army is to buy two additional Boeing CH-47D Chinock heavylift helicopters, in a deal expected to be finalised later this year and worth an estimated $50 million.

The planned purchase, unveiled in Canberra on 29 January, follows an unsolicited proposal put to the Australian Department of Defence in mid-1996. The deal was approved by Australian defence minister Ian McLachlan in December and forms part of a previously undisclosed re-allocation of budget for equipment procurement.

It is understood the two CH-47s are part of a batch of six helicopters that are on the Boeing production line, which were originally destined for South Korea before being deferred. Australia is conducting a study of the modifications needed to achieve commonality between its four new CH-47Ds already in service and the two spare "international" configured helicopters.

Another two CH-47Ds are to go to Singapore to supplement the six it already has on order. China is thought to be interested in acquiring the remaining two.

Source: Flight International