A modernization effort for U.S. Army and special operations Chinook helicopters recently achieved a milestone in the wake of the loading of the first engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) helicopter into final assembly this week.
Boeing said the contract to develop the next-generation Chinook for Army conventional and Special Operations Forces was awarded to the company in July 2017, noting the Block II program incorporates several upgrades to increase lift capability, including Advanced Chinook Rotor Blades, an upgraded fuselage, new fuel system and new drivetrain.
“The CH-47F Block II represents tomorrow’s heavy lift readiness for the United States Army and her allied partners,” Col. Greg Fortier, the Army’s project manager for cargo helicopters, said. “Whether it is increasing total payload, improving the transmission, advancing the Chinook rotor blade, or setting the conditions for supervised autonomous flight, this aircraft provides ground tactical commanders immense capability to win in the multi-domain battle.”
Officials said the first Block II aircraft is expected to be completed in 2019, with flight testing scheduled shortly thereafter, while first delivery is expected in 2023.
“Our progress from contract award to final assembly in less than a year is a direct result of the efficiency and reliability of the program,” said Chuck Dabundo, vice president of Boeing Cargo Helicopters and H-47 program manager. “Block II upgrades will help keep Chinooks in operation for the Army into the 2060s.”