PHILADELPHIA. Boeing [NYSE:BA] and the U.S. Army are partnering to modernize the H-47 Chinook helicopter, infusing it with new technology and increased capabilities. Boeing and U.S. Army officials signed an engineering manufacturing and development contract for the Chinook Block II program’s first three test aircraft.
“We’re bringing several improvements to the Chinook, including a more efficient drivetrain that takes power from the engines to the new Advanced Chinook Rotor Blades,” says Boeing Director of Sales & Marketing Randy Rotte. “These new blades can lift 1,500 additional pounds on their own, making it that much easier for crews to lift payloads without any adjustments. They can just pick it up and go, saving time and effort.”
An improved drivetrain will transfer greater power from the engines to the all-new, swept-tip Advanced Chinook Rotor Blades, which have been engineered to lift 1,500 additional pounds on their own. The current configuration of six fuel tanks – three on each side – will become two, allowing the aircraft to carry more fuel and shed weight. Additionally, the fuselage’s structure will be strengthened in critical areas to allow the aircraft to carry additional payload.
"The Army's only heavy-lift helicopter exists to deliver decisive combat power for our ground commanders," explains Col. Greg Fortier, U.S. Army project manager for Cargo Helicopters. "The Cargo family is anxious to build upon Col. Rob Barrie's efforts to establish this critical program and deliver an adaptive air vehicle. Increasing payload capacity today enhances battlefield agility and prepares the Chinook for even greater performance gains in the future."
The latest series of technology and capability upgrades for the H-47 Chinook will pave the way for the valued helicopter to remain operational through 2060, extending its already 55-year legacy.
Boeing will build and test three U.S. Army CH-47F Block II Chinook helicopters as part of a modernization effort that will likely bring another two decades of work to the company's Philadelphia site.
A $276 million Army contract will fund those helicopters, which will validate technology advancements that will increase the iconic helicopter’s lifting power.
“This latest Chinook upgrade is a testament to the robustness of its original design and its 55-year legacy of technological advancements,” says Chuck Dabundo, vice president of Cargo Helicopter programs and H-47 program manager. “The fact that the U.S. Army continues to use and value this platform and they are intending to continue to upgrade it to keep it flying for decades to come is a testament of the capabilities the Chinook team continues to bring.”
Boeing will begin building the test aircraft next year. The test program begins in 2019 and first delivery of the Block II Chinook is expected in 2023. Eventually, the Army will upgrade more than 500 Chinooks to Block II configuration.
Ultimately, 542 Chinooks will return to Boeing’s Philadelphia facility for Block II upgrades starting 2018.
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