After 50 Years, Boeing’s Chinook Sales Appeal Is Undiminished

 - May 17, 2018, 5:58 AM
The U.S. Army received its first Chinook in 1962 and will begin receiving Block II versions next year. (Photo: Boeing)

Boeing’s recent pitch of the CH-47 Chinook to Germany during the ILA Berlin airshow demonstrates the type’s continuing appeal, despite longevity. More than 50 years after entering service, the CH-47 is likely to serve the U.S. Army for another 30 years in the Block II upgrade configuration, which is now in engineering and manufacturing development (EMD). Spain is the latest international customer for the current-production CH-47F version, and both Israel and the UK are prospects.

Germany will be offered the CH-47F, with the RFP expected from Berlin later this year. The Chinook will compete with the larger Sikorsky CH-53K as a replacement for Germany’s CH-53Ds. “Our cabin volume is almost the same, we can lift many of the same payloads, and we are mature. The CH-53K is very expensive in comparison,” Chuck Dabando, Boeing’s CH-47 manager told Defense and Aerospace Report recently. The U.S. Marine Corps took delivery of the first of a planned 200 CH-53Ks on May 16.

Last September, the head of the UK’s Joint Helicopter Command suggested that the Royal Air Force (RAF) could buy into the Block II upgrade. The RAF has been acquiring Chinooks since the early 1980s, and they have been progressively updated. Boeing is also eyeing Israel’s need to replace its 50-year-old fleet of CH-53s, although these were upgraded and life-extended by IAI and Elbit in the 1980s. Again, the CH-53K will be the competition here.

Spain is buying 17 CH-47Fs to replace its 30-year-old CH-47Ds, in a deal worth $1.3 billion according to the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA). There will be some “customer-unique modifications,” such as AN/AAR-57A(V)8 Common Missile Warning System (CMWS), and Embedded Global Positioning System Inertial Navigation Systems (EGI). The DSCA said that Spain “typically requests offsets [that] will be defined in negotiations [with] the contractor.”