Sunday, May 03, 2009

Aussies look like buying CH-47F Chinooks; when will we?

From Defense Industry Daily:

In December 2005, Australia decided to upgrade its CH-47D Chinook fleet, in preparation for use on the front lines. Afghanistan’s high altitudes and sometimes-scorching temperatures reduce rotor lift. That made the Chinooks a far better choice than upgrading the ADF’s S-70 Black Hawk helicopters, whose reduced carrying capacity would limit their tactical uses. Those CH-47D Chinooks have gone on to play an important role in Afghanistan, amidst a general shortage of useful helicopters. Now, Australia seems determined to supplement its older CH-47D fleet with new and improved CH-47F models, which feature more modern electronics, uprated engines, and numerous other improvements.

April 13/09: The USA’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces Australia’s official request for 7 CH-47F CHINOOK Helicopters with 14 (2 per aircraft) T55-GA-714A Turbine engines, 7 Dillon Aero M134D 7.62mm Miniguns, 16 AN/ARC-201D Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radios (SINCGARS), 7 Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below Blue Force Trackers (FBCB2/BFT), 2 spare T-55-GA-714A Turbine engines, plus mission equipment, communication and navigation equipment, ground support equipment, spare and repair parts, special tools and test equipment, technical data and publications, personnel training and training equipment, and support. The estimated cost is $560 million, but a DSCA request is not a contract.

The prime contractors will be: Boeing Integrated Defense Systems in St. Louis, MO (helicopters); Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, IA (engines); and ITT in Fort Wayne, IN (radios). Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of 2 contractor representatives to Australia for approximately 3 years, with about 6 U.S. Government personnel participating in program management and/or technical reviews in-country for 1-2 week intervals annually.

Don't see much about industrial and regional benefits that so bedevil Canadian equipment procurement. I imagine they've been a big factor in the oh-so-long time it is taking to purchase CH-47Fs for our Air Force--the contract was supposed to have been signed by the end of 2008. If a contract is ever signed at all (see here and here), what with the tough budgetary climate and our pulling out of Afstan in 2011.

Of course the Aussies are in Afstan for the "long haul", will be modestly increasing their long-term commitment, and will be able to use their new Chinooks there. Whereas we won't if we do pull out militarily (some ideas for after 2011 here).


Blogger fm said...

From the White Paper published on Saturday:

"9.43 The Government has decided to replace the current fleet of six CH-47D helicopters with a new fleet of seven CH-47F aircraft, the most modern and capable type of this proven and versatile helicopter. These new medium-lift helicopters will see Australia operating the same aircraft configuration as the US Army, which has a fleet of around 500 aircraft. Not only will these aircraft have improved electronic warfare self-protection systems and maintenance arrangements to increase their operational effectiveness and employability across the battlefield, but future operating costs will be reduced as we take full advantage of the development, engineering, training and spares systems that are in place for the US Army."

9:41 p.m., May 03, 2009  

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