New Chinooks for Canada, and Upgrades for UK

 - September 14, 2009, 12:27 PM

Boeing took a long-expected order from Canada for 15 CH-47F Chinook helicopters worth $1.15 billion. These will be new-build helicopters, to enter service in 2013 and 2014. Boeing said it would offset the entire contract value with contracts and partnerships in Canada. Canada already operates six CH-47Ds that it acquired urgently last year from the U.S. Army, for service in Afghanistan. Italy ordered 16 of the new F-model Chinooks earlier this year, and Boeing is delivering 191 new and remanufactured examples to the U.S. Army under a multi-year contract. In the UK, the Royal Air Force (RAF) is set to receive the first of eight Chinooks that were delivered in 2001 but have never entered service. In one of the country’s most embarrassing procurement sagas, the UK unsuccessfully attempted to modify the aircraft to a new HC.3 standard for use by special forces, without resort to Boeing-designed flight control software. When this project failed, these Chinook HC.3s were stored until a contract to make them airworthy was negotiated with Boeing. This contract was later modified to revert the eight aircraft to the HC.2 version already in RAF service (although they retain the additional fuel tanks also seen on MH-47s for the U.S. special forces). The total cost to UK taxpayers of introducing the eight additional helicopters will be about $750 million. Meanwhile, Honeywell announced the receipt of a $185 million contract from the UK to upgrade the entire RAF fleet of over 40 Chinooks with the more powerful and fuel-efficient Honeywell T55-L-714A powerplants. The RAF also wants to upgrade the avionics of the Chinook fleet, but no decisions have yet been made.