Army’s heavy-lift capability is set to be strengthened by the arrival of new Boeing-built Chinook helicopters.
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RAAF Base Townsville is awaiting the arrival of two additional Boeing CH-47F Chinook helicopters purchased as part of a foreign military sale from the United States in May 2021.
Defence ordered a total of four additional Chinooks for approximately $595 million, with the first two arriving in July 2021.
This latest delivery takes the total size of the Australian Army Aviation Command’s CH-47F Chinook medium-lift helicopter fleet to 14.
The aircraft will be operated by C Squadron, 5th Aviation Regiment.
Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy welcomed the delivery, noting the capability benefits for the Australian Army.
“The Australian government is demonstrating its commitment to bolstering Defence’s ability to prepare our ADF to be future ready,” Minister Conroy said.
“The Chinook is Defence’s largest helicopter, which has been instrumental in recent missions including Operation Bushfire Assist in 2019-20, Operation Tonga Assist in 2022 and Operation Queensland/New South Wales Flood Assist in 2022.
“The helicopters will provide Defence with additional lift capacity and strengthen Army’s ability to support operations globally.”
The Chinook is billed as an advanced multi-mission helicopter, which leverages a fully integrated, digital cockpit management system, Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) Cockpit and advanced cargo-handling capabilities.
The twin-engine platform has a top speed of 170 knots (315 kilometres per hour).
The Chinook is primarily deployed for troop movement, artillery emplacement and battlefield resupply.
Minister Conroy went on to thank US counterparts for the “rapid acquisition”.
The bolstered Chinook fleet is tipped to provide work opportunities for the local defence industry, injecting an estimated $69.5 million into the Australian economy over the next 20 years.
The Army’s acceptance of these latest Chinooks follows Lockheed Martin’s delivery of a further two F-35A Lightning II aircraft to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), taking the total size of the fleet to 50.
The jets arrived in RAAF Base Williamtown in May, accepted by No. 3 Squadron following a successful ferry across the Pacific Ocean from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada in the United States.
The Joint Strike Fighter program has delivered two operational squadrons, with the third scheduled to enter service later this year.
The Commonwealth government has ordered 72 F-35A aircraft under the $16.6 billion JSF contract with Lockheed Martin.
All 72 jets are expected to be fully operational by 2023, with an option to expand the fleet to a maximum of 100 aircraft.
[Related: RAAF F-35A fleet hits half a century]