Boeing will build and test three U.S. Army CH-47F Block II Chinook helicopters as part of a modernization effort to increase the aircraft’s lift capacity. (Boeing illustration)

Boeing to Modernize, Increase Lift for U.S. Army Helicopters

$247-million program to build, test three new-design CH-47F Chinooks, to extend production and the fleet’s performance life

Boeing Defense, Space & Security reported it would build and test three U.S. Army CH-47F Block II Chinook helicopters, as part of a modernization effort of that long-standing defense program. The CH-47 Chinook helicopter is a heavy-lift transport aircraft used extensively by the U.S. Army and other air and defense forces.

Boeing will begin building the test aircraft next year, with program testing set for 2019.

The CH-47 Chinook is a twin-engine, tandem rotor heavy-lift helicopter manufactured by Boeing, used mainly for troop transport, artillery placement, and battlefield resupply.

More than 900 H-47 Chinook helicopters are in operation in 19 countries, including eight NATO nations.

Recently, the U.S. Army issued a $276-million contract to Boeing Defense to fund research into a new-design Chinook, seeking to validate technology advancements that would increase the helicopter’s lifting power. According to published reports, CH-47F Block II would be introduced in 2023.

The redesign seeks to increase the helicopters’ payload capacity to 22,000 lb (10,000 kg) with 4,000 ft (1,200 m) and 95°F (35°C) “high and hot hover” performance.

"The Army's only heavy-lift helicopter exists to deliver decisive combat power for our ground commanders," stated Col. Greg Fortier, U.S. Army project manager for Cargo Helicopters. "Increasing payload capacity today enhances battlefield agility and prepares the Chinook for even greater performance gains in the future."

According to Boeing Defense, the new designs will offer an improved drivetrain that will transfer greater power from the engines to new, “swept-tip Advanced Chinook Rotor Blades,” which are engineered to lift an additional 1,500 lb.

More than that, the current aircraft’s six fuel tanks will be reconfigured for two tanks, allowing the new Chinooks to carry more fuel and reduce overall weight.

“This latest upgrade for the Chinook fleet is a tribute to the robustness of its original design and exemplifies its 55-year legacy of technological advancements,” stated Boeing’s Chuck Dabundo, v.p. - Cargo Helicopters and program manager for the H-47. “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.”

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