Boeing has received a $139.8 million contract to provide four MH-47G Block II Chinook helicopters to the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command (USASOAC).
“The Army uses the MH-47G for some of its most difficult and challenging missions,” said Pat Donnelly, director, H-47 Domestic and Foreign Military Sale Programs. “By incorporating key Block II features we significantly extend the service life, enhance performance, and maintain Chinook’s position as the world’s preeminent special operations helicopter.”
USASOAC provides command and control, executive oversight, and resourcing of U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) aviation assets and units in support of national security objectives.
The newly contracted MH-47G helicopters mark the start of a Block II production run expected to extend into the late 2020s.
The U.S. Army currently operates 69 MH-47G Chinook helicopters. Concurrent with the MH-47G enhancements, Boeing is developing a Block II configuration for the U.S. Army CH-47F Chinook.
CH-47F/MH-47G Chinook Block II
The contract to develop the next-generation Chinook for the U.S. Army conventional – CH-47F Chinook Block II – and Special Operations Forces (SOF) – MH-47G Chinook Block II – was awarded to Boeing in July 2017.
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. These updates greatly increase the commonality between U.S. Army and allied fleets, thus reducing maintenance costs.
An improved drivetrain will transfer greater power from the engines to the all-new, swept-tip rotor blades, which have been engineered to lift 1,500 additional pounds on their own. The current configuration of six fuel tanks – three on each side – will become two, allowing the aircraft to carry more fuel and shed weight. Additionally, the fuselage’s structure will be strengthened in critical areas to allow the aircraft to carry additional payload.
The first Block II aircraft is expected to be completed in 2019, with flight testing scheduled shortly thereafter. First delivery is expected in 2023. Eventually, the Army will upgrade more than 500 Chinooks to the new configuration.