Thursday, April 10, 2008

CH-47Ds for Afstan

Further to this post, these six Chinooks look like a done deal (and older "Ds", not "Fs", after all); note aircrew training has started and February 2009 Afstan in-service date:
Despite weeks of frantic activity and negotiation, Canada's Defence Department can only guess how much it will cost to fulfil the Manley report conditions that extend Canada's Afghan mission until 2011.

Defence sources say it is expected to cost "a couple of hundred million dollars" to supply six Canadian-owned battlefield helicopters to troops in Kandahar in a project that is over and above the Conservative government's promised $4.7 billion purchase of 16 CH-47 Chinooks.

A firm price tag has yet to be calculated because National Defence is waiting for the Pentagon to deliver a formal letter of offer in a government-to-government purchase, a defence source familiar with the file told The Canadian Press.

The helicopters destined for Kandahar will be [used but refurbished] "standard U.S. Army configuration" - or the 'D' model of the Chinook, which cost between $15 and $20 million per aircraft.

When logistics, spare parts and training are included, defence insiders conceded that the department currently has "no idea" how much obtaining the helicopters will cost...

Government officials had hinted the money would come out of the Tories' existing helicopter program, but that is not the case.

"This is in the Support to Afghanistan (budget) and not part of the (medium-lift helicopter) project," said the source, who spoke on the condition of not being named...

The planned purchase of heavy-lift helicopters was announced by the Conservatives almost two years and they very quickly identified Boeing's CH-47 Chinook as the aircraft they wanted.

There was mounting frustration within the Defence Department because the project has been stalled.

The air force has asked for the latest variant of the aircraft - the 'F' model - but also requested modifications in the aircraft [likely including some MH-47G elements] that have pushed the delivery date off until the 2011-12 time frame...

The offer of six CH-47-D Chinooks, carved out of an order originally slated for the U.S. Army, was made verbally by Washington shortly before the independent panel made helicopter transport a condition for Canada remaining in Afghanistan.

Canadian pilots are already training on the Chinooks at Fort Ruker, Alabama, the U.S. Army's main aviation school. The aircraft mechanics are expected to be trained through Boeing.

"The plan is: We will deploy with four to six in February
[emphasis added]," said the source...
At that price the aircraft will clearly be bought through Boeing’s CHAPS (Cargo Helicopter Alternate Procurement Strategy) program. Will we then end up with 22 Chinooks in all? Not if there is an...
...ultimate ‘rebuild’ of the CF’s CHAPS ’D models into ’Fs.
Much more on our Chinook program here.


Blogger Dave in Pa. said...

For anyone interested, here's links to two websites about Fort Rucker, Alabama. The first is official; the second unofficial but both seem quite informative.

US Army Aviation Warfighting Center and Fort Rucker:

Fort Rucker Guide:

An excerpt from one the webpage about aircrew training, under the heading Advanced Graduate Flight Training, "...Fifth phase is the advanced aircraft qualification. Courses for the UH-60A, AH-64D, OH-58D, and CH-47D range from about 14 to 23 weeks in training."

Of these helicopters listed, I'm assuming the longer training courses are for the the more complex AH-64D Apache and the CH-47D Chinook. So, it appears the Chinook cross-training program for experienced helicopter pilots seems to be about six months long.

9:54 a.m., April 10, 2008  
Blogger Dave in Pa. said...

Another thought I just had is that once these CH-47s and their aircrews get to Af-stan, they're going to get LOTS of flying time.

From what I've read here, at and various other sites, all the Allied CH-47s and other transport helicopters are tasked to the max. They're either flying their own Forces soldiers and supplies around or those of other Allies.

(I guess that's why the Boeing Chinook assembly line is booked solid for quite a number of years. Everybody needs transport helicopters; they want them delivered yesterday and the Chinook is the pre-eminent model of medium-heavy lift models. Looks like it's a wise idea to go with the CHAPS program of refurbished, upgraded models for the first six, with the goal of 02/2009 in-service date, rather waiting several years longer for brand new models.)

10:12 a.m., April 10, 2008  

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