First Foxtrot Chinooks enter Army service

written by australianaviation.com.au | May 5, 2015
DSC_2857_MICHAEL POWER copy
Foxtrot Chinook A15-302 on a recent flight from RAAF Base Townsville. (Michael Power)

The Army has taken delivery of its first of two Boeing CH-47F ‘Foxtrot’ Chinook helicopters.

Seven CH-47Fs are being acquired under a $631 million project (AIR 9000 Phase 5C) to replace the Army’s existing fleet of seven CH-47D Chinooks, and will be operated by 5 Aviation Regiment from RAAF Base Townsville. The remaining five Chinooks are due to be handed over by August, while two CH-47F flight simulators are already in service at Townsville.

“The aircraft and associated equipment are being purchased through the United States Foreign Military Sales program; maintenance support will be provided locally through partnerships with Boeing Defence Australia and BAE Systems,” a joint statement by Defence Minister Kevin Andrews and Member for Herbert Ewen Jones said on Tuesday.

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“The project remains on schedule and under budget.”

The seven CH-47Fs were ordered in March 2010, at which point deliveries were expected to begin in 2014 but continue through until 2017.

New and upgraded working accommodation, new maintenance hangars, storage and workshop facilities, and a new simulator building are also being built at Townsville to support the new heavylift helicopter.

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17 Comments

  • Greg

    says:

    Any idea on what’s happening to the D models are they going to be traded in for extra airframes

  • Dane

    says:

    What a success story FMS is. 5 years from the order being placed to having an aircraft into service is an amazing accomplishment.

  • Jason

    says:

    So far I’ve only heard that A15-106 ‘Life’s A Beach’ has been given to the RAAF Museum at Point Cook

  • Michael

    says:

    Anyone know how come our Chinook force is so small? Canada which has a similarly sized army has 15 Chinooks and the Netherlands which has a smaller army is planning for and purchasing a fleet of 20 CH-47Fs.

  • Trevor

    says:

    michael it is all about constraining costs. Army has a number of big projects that need funding.

  • Dee

    says:

    Michael, how many C-17 lifters does Canada have? Plus we also are to receive C-27’s, so the 7 ch-47H’s Will make an ideal balance of transports.

  • Michael

    says:

    Dee you are probably right. I was thinking the overall balance of our airlifter/heli fleets possibly had something to do with it.

  • Tim

    says:

    When australia purchased the Blackhawks in the 80’s the chinooks where orinally mothballed.. The thinking at the time was that the Blackhawks would be sufficient as they were larger than the Hueys.

    It was quickly discovered that the Blackhawks couldn’t replace the heavy life role that the chinooks played, particularly when dealing with natural disasters. As a result they upgraded some of the mothballed chinooks and put them back into service.

    They have offcourse course been utilised extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • Blacky

    says:

    Eh Eh…so many more blades than a Blackhawk! wowoo!!

  • Chuck

    says:

    An original scoping suggested Chinooks replacing Caribou / C27 class aircraft, but this would have proven unpalatable for RAAF, for reasons that can only be assumed. One could probably deduce that viable tasking and utilisation probably still exists for a larger Chinook fleet, given their heavy use operationally into austere locations over recent years.

  • Michael

    says:

    Chuck I think you are right about that. You could also deduce that given events of recent years and looking into the future, that viable tasking and utilisation probably exists to introduce another rotorcraft type to give the ADF greater capability or strategic weight. I’m thinking along along the lines of the Osprey or HH-60 Pavehawk (or even a MRH-90 Taipan with Pavehawk capability) to give the 171st Aviation squadron a proper Special forces capable platform, as well as the obvious benefits ADF wide with introducing the Osprey.

    I think unless there is a pressing need to introduce more Chinooks (with the exception of only a few more) or an additional platform (obviously this option would be very costly in both acquisition and operational expenditure) the ADF is best to hang tight for now, considering some of the exciting new capabilities in high speed rotorcraft that are in development, and are likely to result in new platforms entering service in the US Army probably by the early 2030, maybe earlier..

  • derrick

    says:

    I think we should have bought the CH-53K king stallion, makes more sense as we’re have the new landing ships. Also it has a higher payload than the CH-47F (12,700kg vs 15,900kg) engine redundancy ( 2 vs 3). Easier to transport on our C-17 and storing on our landing ships…

  • PhilC

    says:

    Tend to agree .However, tight budgets etc etc

  • John N

    says:

    Derrick,

    CH-35K’s for the ADF? Never going to happen, too big, too heavy, too expensive and as far as operating off the Canberra class LHD’s, won’t work.

    The LHD’s (and their Spanish sister, JC1) are all capable of operating up to 6 MRH-90’s or 4 CH-47’s simultaneously and there is only ‘one’ spot on the flight deck that is strengthened and able to land an MV-22 aircraft, which is more comparable to the size and weight of a CH-53K than a Chinook for example.

    The other issue, other than the capability and limitations of the flight deck, is the hangar deck, from the images that I have seen of the Spanish JC1, a Chinook can certainly fit in the hangar (with rotors removed), but its a bit of a tight fit, the CH-53K on the other hand is significantly ‘taller’ than a Chinook which basically means that the maximum number of CH-53K’s that could potentially be operate of the LHD’s is ‘one’ and that ‘one’ would have to be left parked on the deck. Again for the ADF, not going to happen, too big, too heavy and too expensive.

    As for the new CH-47F’s, is seven enough? Probably just…., I think one of the differences for Army with the new Foxtrot’s is that the fleet also comes with two flight simulators for training, from what I understand there were no flight simulators for the Delta’s, so that’s got to help significantly, less aircraft assigned to training and more to operations.

    If there were to be more CH-47’s in the Army’s inventory then maybe it should be, say, 5-6 MH-47G’s (based on the CH-47F) for the special forces??

    Cheers,

    John N

  • Michael

    says:

    John N thanks for thank info. I am surprised the the Canberra class are only strengthened in one landing spot to accommodate an Osprey. That seems a bit short sighted. I’m assuming this is what also makes the idea of having the F-35B operate from these ships such poor value for money?

    Good point in regards to the MH-47G I didn’t think of that model. If the ADF were to acquire this model they could also consider acquiring some kind of RORO refuelling kit to load onto C-130Js and C-27s, to save modifying part of the fleet with wing pod kits.

  • BenG

    says:

    I agree with John N about the Osprey. Really a pointless option. Though disagree with the CH53K comments. What are the USMC switching to John? Height is not a problem on a flight deck. The Chinook can’t fold blades and move aside like a CH53.

    Having served on HMS Ark Royal, a ship of similar size to the Canberra. Three Chinooks is all you would achieve on the deck. Otherwise you have nowhere for other aircraft to operate from, as you can’t reasonably shift the larger cab out of the way.

    CH53 and CH47 are different aircraft and my thought is that the Fleet Air Arm could have just a few CH53K in their inventory. And why not? After all the RAAF seemed to have accumulated four types of logistic transport. The CH53K could probably have a mine warfare module expanding its ability.

  • John N

    says:

    Ben G,

    Of course there are no ‘height’ restrictions on an open flight deck, that’s obvious, what I was referring to was the available height ‘inside’ the hangar deck.

    A CH-47F has a height of 5.7m (a CH-53K 8.46m), a CH-47F has a fuselage length of 15.8m, with rotors, 30.1m (a CH-53K has a length of 30.2m), the King Stallion is a big aircraft, a very big aircraft.

    I haven’t been aboard Canberra yet, but from the photo’s that I have seen of the Spanish sister, (JC1), a Chinook can certainly fit (with rotor blades removed) in the hangar deck, but it appears to be a tight fit, on the other hand I have been aboard a couple of USN LHA/LHD’s and the ‘head height’ inside the hangar deck is ‘significant’, very significant, anything in the USMC inventory certainly has no problem fitting inside, especially height.

    Anyway, putting aside the question of what will or won’t fit in the hangar deck of the RAN’s new LHD’s, the question is, will the Government or RAN ever consider having CH-53K’s in the inventory? I think the simple answer to that is a no, a big no.

    Why procure ‘another’ helicopter type for ADF service (and in relatively small numbers too), when one of the aims of the various phases of AIR9000 was to reduce the number of available types in ADF service, would be very expensive and not practical, in my opinion.

    In regard to acquiring a helicopter borne mine warfare capability, the more practical solution would be for the RAN to hand the MRH-90’s back to the Army (would give Army a bigger pool of lift helicopters), and acquire a larger fleet, (say up to 12) MH-60S, these aircraft have a lot of commonality with the MH-60R’s, same cockpit, same engines, folding blades, etc, would be perfect for the RAN’s utility roles, VERTREP and of course a potential mine warfare capability too.

    Anyway Ben, I think we can agree to disagree!!

    Cheers,

    John N

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