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Army receives two new CH-47F Chinook helicopters

Army receives two new CH-47F Chinook helicopters
A new CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopter is unloaded from a United Stated C-5 Galaxy at RAAF Base Townsville, Queensland. Photo: Trooper Lisa Sherman

Boeing has delivered two of four additional Chinook helicopters, ordered by Defence earlier this year.

Boeing has delivered two of four additional Chinook helicopters, ordered by Defence earlier this year.

The Australian Army’s fleet of CH-47F Chinook helicopters has expanded to 12, with Boeing delivering two of four additional aircraft, purchased via a foreign military sales agreement for approximately $595 million.

The deal, approved by the US State Department in May, also includes:

  • eight T55-GA-714A aircraft turbine engines;
  • five AN/AAR-57 Common Missile Warning Systems (CMWS);
  • eight Embedded Global Positioning System (GPS)/Inertial Navigation Systems (INS/EGI) +429; and
  • two EAGLE+429 Embedded Global Positioning System (GPS)/Inertial Navigation Systems (INS/EGI).

The third and fourth CH-47F Chinook helicopters are scheduled to be delivered in mid-2022. 

The arrival of the Boeing-built heavy-lift helicopters, flown by the Army’s 5th Aviation Regiment, 16th Aviation Brigade at RAAF Base Townsville, comes just weeks after Defence was forced to ground its fleet of 47 Airbus-built MRH-90 Taipan aircraft.

Operation of the Taipan fleet, flown by 808 Squadron, was indefinitely suspended as a “safety precaution” after Defence identified an issue relating to the “application of the helicopter’s maintenance policy” in the aircraft’s IT support system.

This was the latest in a series of technical incidents associated with the Taipan, which continues to be listed as a ‘project of concern’ by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO).

Minister for Defence Peter Dutton welcomed the arrival of the helicopters, which he said would strengthen Army’s airlift capability and support operations across the globe. 

“The Chinook is Defence’s largest helicopter, with a long and proven track record of supporting ADF operations in Australia, our near region and further afield," he said. 

"This arrival comes approximately three months after the sale was approved and highlights Australia’s excellent strategic working relationship with the United States.

“By working closely with the United States, through streamlined processes to rapidly deliver Defence capability, the Morrison government is demonstrating its commitment to Defence’s strategic objectives and, in this case, bolstering Defence’s aviation capability.”

Andy Builta, Boeing vice president, Cargo Helicopters and H-47 program manager, said the helicopters are capable of meeting both current and future battlespace requirements. 

“While the aircraft’s exterior is iconic, the H-47 has incorporated the latest technologies to provide the world’s most modern digital avionics, flight controls and mission-centric capabilities,” he said.

Boeing holds a CH-47F through-life support contract, which was extended in March until 2025, taking the contract’s total value to $89 million.

The sustainment services are carried out locally by Boeing Defence Australia, with most work delivered from Townsville and Oakey, leveraging an existing network of Australian rotary wing capability.

“As evidenced by our proven history on programs like the F/A-18 Super Hornet, EA-18 Growler and P-8A Poseidon platforms, Boeing is committed to expanding its industry capability,” Dale McDowall, director, global sales and marketing, Boeing Defense, Space & Security Australia and New Zealand, said.

“Boeing appreciates the Commonwealth of Australia’s decision to acquire additional H-47 Chinooks.

“We are proud of our enduring partnership with the Australian Army and Australian industry, and we are committed to continuing to reliably deliver affordable, modern, sovereign operational capabilities to the Australian Defence Force now and into the future.”

[Related: Defence procures $2.5bn in AFVs, CH-47F Chinooks]

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