Boeing won a $578 million Foreign Military Sales contract to deliver 14 extended-range Chinook heavy-lift helicopters to the UK Royal Air Force (RAF).
The United Kingdom will be the first international operator of a Block II Chinook. Deliveries are scheduled to start in 2026.
The deal was awarded to the company by the U.S. Special Operations Command. Boeing and the RAF recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of the first Chinook delivery to the UK.
The Block II variant was officially launched in 2017. Block II Chinook improvements are applicable to “regular” CH-47Fs, and Boeing began flying a Block II CH-47F trials aircraft on March 28, 2019, albeit initially lacking the new rotors.
Chinook Block II combines new technologies, including the Advanced Chinook Rotor Blade, redesigned fuel tanks, a strengthened fuselage, and an improved drivetrain – all aimed at increasing lift capability.
Block II introduces a lighter, more structurally rigid airframe, a beefed-up drivetrain and Boeing’s advanced composite rotor blades (ACRBs), designed to provide a 1,500-pound (680-kilogram) increase in lift.
The fuel system has been redesigned, with the former six individual tanks giving way to two lighter tanks of increased capacity. An improved drivetrain transfers power more effectively from the Honeywell T55 engines to the rotors, offering a nine percent increase in torque carrying capability.
These improvements increase the Block II’s payload from 20,000 to 22,000 pounds. Moreover, the upgrade significantly improves hot-and-high performance. This was one of the drivers behind the program, based on operational experience from Afghanistan. The weight-saving and performance improvements of the Block II also offset the steady weight-creep of operational equipment.
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