The first CH-47 Block II makes its maiden flight March 28 at Boeing's plant outside Philadelphia. (Boeing photo)
Army Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy is working to secure new deals for the CH-47 Chinook with the U.K. and the United Arab Emirates that he said would assist the Boeing [BA] production line as the service moves forward with its own planned cuts to the program.
“If those two land, [Boeing] will have a very robust set of orders for the next five years,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy said the deal with the UAE would include the CH-47F Block II, but Boeing officials told Defense Daily the company is not currently under contract to deliver Block II Chinooks to either country and clarified the F-model has yet to be certified for international sales.
A defense official familiar with the topic clarified that both countries have expressed interest and are in coordination to secure deals for the Chinook.
The Pentagon on June 13 announced a deal with Boeing to procure long-lead components and parts in support of the MH-47G Block II Production Program with the U.K. The MH-47G is the SOCOM-variant of the Chinook.
The State Department approved a $3.5 billion deal with the U.K. for 16 H-47 Extended Range Chinooks in October (Defense Daily, Oct. 19).
“The most important thing to know is that the goal of both deals is to keep enough Chinook quantities to maintain a viable production line,” the official told Defense Daily.
The Army’s FY '20 budget request included Chinook Block II as one of 186 programs receiving cuts reductions as the service looks to find $33 billion that will be shifted to development of future weapon systems over the next five years.
Under the proposed plan, the Army would purchase Block II upgrades in FY '20, and for FY '21 and beyond the service would only look to procure the SOCOM variants. Original plans for the CH-47 included upgrading the entire fleet of 542 Chinooks to the Block II configuration.
Army officials have acknowledged pushback from lawmakers on the planned Block II cuts as Congress continues its mark-up of FY '20 defense policy and appropriations legislation (Defense Daily, May 17).
“We terminated 93 programs and we truncated the buys on 93 others. We’ve had one issue. That’s a pretty good free-throw percentage,” McCarthy told reporters. “We feel very good about that and very blessed by the way the committees of jurisdiction have received that and moved on it.”
McCarthy said Army officials have met with lawmakers to discuss Congress’ issue with the Army’s path forward for aviation and potential impacts to the industrial base.
“It’s about the overall strategy for the aviation portfolio, and maybe we could have communicated that better to the committees,” McCarthy said. “First thing I did after the HAC-D mark, I went and sat with [Reps. John] Carter (R-Texas) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), from the Army caucus who are both appropriators, and pointed the thumb that I should have done something better.”
Clarification: This post originally stated the Army was looking to sell CH-47F Block II aircraft to the U.K. and UAE, based on information from the Under Secretary of the Army. The countries are buying Block I aircraft through foreign military sales.