Boeing and AgustaWestland have signed an MOU to work together on the next generation of Chinook helicopters for the Italian army and other future rotorcraft opportunities.
The Italian CH-47Cs are at the end of their service lives. Italy has a requirement for 16-20 helicopters, but hasn’t yet set a time frame for replacing or upgrading the Chinooks, which are used primarily for peacekeeping, humanitarian aid, disaster relief, and firefighting. It is anticipated the procurement would begin in 2011.
Boeing’s latest Chinook, the CH-47F, was developed as a remanufacturing program to upgrade U.S. Army CH-47Ds. It gives the U.S. Army a common Chinook configuration with a stiffer airframe less prone to costly vibration-related fatigue. It also standardizes on the Honeywell T55-GA-714A engine first installed in special-operations Chinooks.
Boeing slashed the cost of building new -47F Chinooks, which helped convince the U.S. Army to transition to building all-new F-model airframes. The aircraft use refurbished dynamics. Boeing is now producing a mix of remanufactured and new-build CH-47Fs However, Italy’s CH-47C are not convertible to the -47F configuration, so its army would have to acquire new-build ones or -47Ds that it then could have remanufactured as -47Fs.
AgustaWestland would serve as the prime contractor and Boeing the prime subcontractor on future new helicopter sales in Italy and the United Kingdom.