Two additional CH-47F Chinook medium-lift transport helicopters will arrive at RAAF Base Townsville after an expedited sale from the United States Government. The two additional aircraft will join the Australian Army Aviation Command’s existing 12 CH-47F Chinook helicopters operated by C Squadron, 5th Aviation Regiment. Australia’s defence industry will continue to play a key role in supporting the increased CH-47F Chinook fleet, with an additional $69.5 million investment into the Australian economy over the next 20 years. The Australian Government thank United States counterparts, including the United States Army, for their support in this rapid acquisition.
Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Pat Conroy MP said,”The two additional Chinooks were part of the Australian Government’s $595 million investment in heavy-lift battlefield aviation capability. The Government is demonstrating its commitment to bolstering Defence’s ability to prepare our ADF to be future ready. The Chinook is Defence’s largest helicopter, which has been instrumental in recent missions including Operation Bushfire Assist in 2019-20, Operation Tonga Assist in 2022 and Operation Queensland/New South Wales Flood Assist in 2022. The helicopters will provide Defence with additional lift capacity and strengthen Army’s ability to support operations globally.”
A decision by the US Army in the mid-2000s to replace all its CH-47Ds with new-build CH-47Fs by 2017 endangered the viability of the Australian Chinooks. This was because the Australian Army’s arrangements for the logistical support of its small number of CH-47Ds were heavily leveraged off those for the US Army’s large fleet. The Australian Government provided initial approval for a CH-47F purchase in September 2007. The Government chose to procure the helicopters through the US Government’s Foreign Military Sales program to minimise potential risks to the schedule and cost of the project. In April 2021 the United States Department of State approved a potential sale of four CH-47Fs from US Army holdings to Australia.
The Boeing CH-47 Chinook is a tandem rotor helicopter developed by American rotorcraft company Vertol and manufactured by Boeing Vertol. The Chinook is a heavy-lift helicopter that is among the heaviest lifting Western helicopters. Its name, Chinook, is from the Native American Chinook people of Oregon and Washington state. The first CH-47F, an upgraded CH-47D, made its maiden flight; the first production model rolled out on 15 June 2006 at Boeing’s facility in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, and first flew on 23 October 2006. Upgrades include 4,868-shaft-horsepower (3,630 kW) Honeywell engines and the airframe featuring greater single-piece construction to lower maintenance requirements. The Boeing CH-47F Chinook is the largest helicopter in the Australian Army fleet.