First taking flight in 1962, the Army’s fleet of Chinook helicopters are used in missions requiring heavy-lift aerial support of troops, supplies, equipment, and even vehicles. These aircraft have been utilized by 19 countries around the world. A recently awarded contract from the Department of Defense (DoD) will usher in the next generation of Chinooks for use by U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF).
The DoD recently tabbed Boeing for the finalization of four new-build MH-47G Chinook Block II special operations helicopters. The deal is valued at $39 million. According to the Pentagon, "This action is required to satisfy an urgent need to sustain U.S. Special Operations Forces heavy assault, rotary wing aircraft in light of increased SOF operational demands."
The Army currently has 69 MH-47G helicopters, which is a special-forces variant of the Chinook. Last summer, Boeing received a $139.8 million contract for initial procurement of the four helicopters, and then received another $43 million in November.
The aircraft will be utilized by the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, also known as the Night Stalkers. The first MH-47G was delivered to this unit in 2014. The four new choppers will feature enhanced digital avionics and flight control systems, as well as a sturdier monolithic airframe.
The majority of the manufacturing will take place at Boeing’s facility in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania.
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