Boeing Awarded Contract To Produce 60 Heavy-lift Chinook Helicopters For Bundeswehr

The German government will purchase 60 Boeing Chinook heavy-lift helicopters to equip the armed forces in a deal reportedly worth upwards of $4 billion, according to a Ministry of Defense announcement on Wednesday.

The CH-47F Block 2 “Standard Range” variant aircraft are refuelable during flight, a key requirement for the German armed forces, the statement said. They are slated to replace the Bundeswehr’s fleet of aging CH-53, made by Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky.

Lockheed also had put in a bid for the contract, offering its CH-53K King Stallion. The Chinook’s lower per-unit price made the difference, according to the Ministry of Defense, as it would allow Berlin to buy the maximum number of aircraft out of a range previously billed as 45 to 60 copies.That, in turn, would increase “operational flexibility” with a helicopter type used widely among NATO partners.

Officials stressed interoperability benefits with the Netherlands, in particular. The Bundeswehr already works closely with the neighbor’s armed forces across a variety of operational domains.

Citing government planning data, Reuters reported Wednesday the Boeing deal would be worth roughly $4.3 billion, with deliveries starting in 2023 and lasting through 2029.

The Chinook pick caps a years-long saga for Germany to buy a new Schwerer Transporthubschrauber, or STH, as the heavy-lift chopper program is called in German. Officials initially wanted a no-frills workhorse to support troops, but developmental frills were nevertheless added, resulting in offers so expensive that the government walked away and initiated a redo in 2020.

The strategy since then has been to prepare a purchase that would require little to no national modifications. Officials have previously said they want to award a contract by the end of the year. Spending money on off-the-rack hardware from the United States could help quickly turn an expected spike of defense cash into modernized equipment with little risk, according to analysts.

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