Italy has joined the growing list of American allies that want CH-47F Chinook transport helicopters. The Italian army has ordered twenty CH-47Fs, for about $62 million each (this includes lots of electronics, some weapons, support and training, spare engines and other spare parts.) The 22 ton CH-47F can carry ten tons of cargo, or up to 55 troops, and has a maximum range of 426 kilometers. Its max speed is 315 kilometers an hour. Typical missions last about three hours. It is the best helicopter for use in Afghanistan, having proved itself able to deal with the dust and high altitude operations better than other transport choppers.
The first CH-47s entered service in 1962, able to carry only five tons. Some 750 saw service in Vietnam, and 200 were lost in action. Between 1982-94, 500 CH-47s were rebuilt to the CH-47D standard. SOCOM operates 31 MH-47Ds and Es (which have additional navigation gear.) These are being upgraded to MH-47F standards, and the fleet expanded to 61 helicopters. As a result of all this, the CH-47 will end up serving at least 75 years. The CH-47F upgrades and new builds will not be completed until 2018. New CH-47Fs cost about $35 million each, just for the bare aircraft.
Italy already has 40 older CH-47Cs, but only about 60 percent of these are available for service at any time.