South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) endorsed a defense project to purchase an unspecified number of CH-47F Chinook helicopters to replace the Army’s aging heavy-lift choppers. The Defense Project Promotion Committee approved a 1.49 trillion-won (US$1.15 billion) plan to acquire the helicopters, manufactured by the U.S. defense firm Boeing, through 2028. DAPA did not disclose the number of new helicopters to be purchased, but the country is expected to bring in some 20 CH-47Fs. The project is aimed at replacing CH-47D helicopters. With the timely replacement of aging heavy-lift utility helicopters through this project, the new helicopters will guarantee safe operations and greatly enhance capabilities in large-scale transport and response to disasters.
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 latest mainstream generation is the CH-47F. In 2001, 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 CH-47F can fly at speeds of over 175 mph (282 km/h) with a payload of more than 21,000 lb (9,500 kg). New avionics include a Rockwell Collins Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) cockpit, and BAE Systems’ Digital Advanced Flight Control System (DAFCS). AgustaWestland assembles the CH-47F under license, known as the Chinook ICH-47F, for several customers. Boeing delivered 48 CH-47Fs to the U.S. Army through August 2008; at that time Boeing announced a $4.8 billion contract with the Army for 191 Chinooks. The milled construction reduces vibration, as well as inspection and repair needs, and eliminates flexing points to increase service life.
The CH-47F Block 2 aims for a payload of 22,000 lb (10,000 kg) with 4,000 ft (1,200 m) and 95 °F (35 °C) high and hot hover performance, eventually increased up to 6,000 ft (1,800 m), to carry the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle; maximum takeoff weight would be raised to 54,000 lb (24,500 kg). The U.S. Army plans for a Block 3 upgrade after 2025, which could include a new 6,000 hp (4,500 kW) class engine with boosted power capacity of the transmission and drive train developed under the future affordable turbine engine (FATE) program and a lengthened fuselage. The Future Vertical Lift program plans to begin replacing the Army’s rotorcraft fleet in the mid-2030s, thus the CH-47 is planned to be in service beyond 2060, over 100 years after first entering service.