Procurement: Express Delivery For Oz

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December 23, 2011: Australia has ordered two more American CH-47D "Chinook" transport helicopters. These are to replace one lost last May in Afghanistan, and to increase to seven their current fleet of CH-47Ds. These two will be delivered next month and will be modified for Australian service. This process will take about five months. These two CH-47Ds will be taken from U.S. Army stocks in order to assure quick delivery.

Australia already has seven CH-47Fs on order. These will cost about $60 million each, in a deal that will include two simulators. Australia joins a growing list of American allies that want CH-47F transport helicopters. The tricky aspect of the Australian sale was how soon the CH-47Fs could be delivered. There is a backlog and the U.S. is under pressure to get the Australians (who have been capable and steadfast allies for nearly a century) theirs as soon as possible. Thus the first two for Oz will show up next year, with the rest arriving within three years of that.

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 no more than three hours. It is the best helicopter for use in Afghanistan, having proved 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. During 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.

 


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