Boeing Defense, Space and Security landed a new, $194-million U.S. Army contract to build seven helicopters for the Special Operations Aviation Command. It is the second modification (Block II) to the MH-47G Chinook helicopters program, following last year’s initial contract.
In its announcement, the U.S. Dept. of Defense said the contract modification “is required to sustain U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) heavy assault, rotary wing aircraft, and to mitigate the impact of the MH-47G aircraft availability in light of increased SOF operational demands.”
Chinook helicopters are used by the U.S. Army and other military branches, and allied defense forces, mainly for troop transport, artillery placement, and battlefield resupply. SOAC has been using the MH-47G for nearly a decade, and the Army currently has 69 of the aircraft in service.
The Chinook Block II helicopters have been designed to achieve a payload of 22,000 lbs. (10,000 kg) with 4,000 ft. (1,200 m) and 95°F (35°C) “high and hot hover performance,” eventually increasing to 6,000 ft. (1,800 m) to carry a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. Maximum takeoff weight would be raised to 24,500 kg (54,000 lbs.)
The Block II program update is in progress, with assembly to begin this year. Boeing is now under contract for a total of 15 MH-47G Chinooks, with first deliveries will begin in 2021.
“The MH-47G is the world’s best, most reliable heavy-lift helicopter and will help Special Operations execute their difficult missions,” according to Boeing’s MH-47 program manager, Chuck Dabundo. “Nearly a quarter of the Special Ops fleet is now on contract for Block II, and we look forward to delivering this capability to them on schedule.”
The Army has a large number of MH-47G Chinook helicopters. Boeing is now on contract for a total of 15 MH-47G Block II Chinooks. The first MH-47G Block II aircraft is scheduled to begin final assembly this year.