Procurement: The 70 Year Old Combat Helicopter

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March 3, 2008: The U.S. Army has ordered 11 more CH-47F transport helicopters, at a cost of $26 million each. The army has now ordered 59 new CH-47Fs. The army is also remanufacturing 397 existing CH-47Ds, turning them into CH-47Fs. The new build aircraft will be replacements for combat losses, and additional aircraft for SOCOM (which call it the MH-47). The CH-47F aircraft has significantly greater capability then the "D" model. For example, it is able to lift an additional 3,900 pounds of cargo (for a total of ten tons). The Army program is going well, with the first CH-47F delivered in 2005. But one significant change has been made. Due to the costs involved in refurbishing the existing aircraft's airframes, it was found to be more cost effective to build new, more durable, composite airframes. This is not really surprising since these helicopters have been rebuilt more than once (from A models to D models) and in some cases are 40 years old or more. The Army anticipates flying these rebuilt (again) aircraft until 2030, giving many of them a total service life of 70 plus years.

 

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