Boeing will begin building the first three test aircraft for its next generation of Chinook helicopters in 2018. Under a recent $276 million U.S. Army CH-47F Block II Chinook helicopters contract, one of the goals for Boeing is to increase the iconic helicopter’s lifting power.
An improved drivetrain will transfer greater power from the engines to the all-new, swept-tip advanced Chinook rotor blades, which have been engineered to lift 1,500 additional pounds. The current configuration of six fuel tanks — three on each side — will become two, allowing the aircraft to carry more fuel and shed weight. Additionally, the fuselage’s structure will be strengthened in critical areas to allow the aircraft to carry additional payload.
"The Army's only heavy-lift helicopter exists to deliver decisive combat power for our ground commanders," said Col. Greg Fortier, U.S. Army project manager for Cargo Helicopters. "The Cargo family is anxious to build upon Col. Rob Barrie's efforts to establish this critical program and deliver an adaptive air vehicle. Increasing payload capacity today enhances battlefield agility and prepares the Chinook for even greater performance gains in the future."
The test program begins in 2019 and first delivery of the Block II Chinook is expected in 2023. Eventually, the Army will upgrade more than 500 Chinooks to Block II configuration.