Boeing is investing $130 million to overhaul the Boeing CH-47 Chinook production line in Ridley Park, Pa., making it the largest capital investment made by the company’s Defense, Space & Security segment. The project to renovate 223,000 sq ft of production space around lean manufacturing principles will be completed in October.
Bolstered by the U.S. Army’s procurement of new F-model Chinooks and orders from several international customers, the CH-47 is experiencing its highest demand in 20 years, the company says. The production rate is being raised from about four to six aircraft per month. There are two lines: one for CH-47Fs and another for international Chinooks and U.S. special operations MH-47Gs.
The Army program of record for the CH-47F Chinook, which is replacing D models, calls for 464 aircraft. According to Leanne Caret, v-p of H-47 programs, Boeing has delivered 132 F models and is on contract for 159 more. The program of record for special operations MH-47Gs is 61 helicopters, all delivered as of the first quarter. Caret said Boeing was awaiting a contract award for eight new-build helicopters.
The company has a time-and-material contract to build 12 Chinooks in Mk6 configuration for the British Royal Air Force as part of the UK’s Project Julius upgrade. These aircraft, based on the F-model fuselage, will be fitted with the Thales TopDeck avionics suite and more powerful Honeywell T55-L-714A engines. Caret said the contract funds labor hours for design work and procurement of long-lead materials. She said that the UK was incrementally funding the contract. However, there has been speculation that the order will be cut, as the UK struggles to balance its defense budget.