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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Program Insider: International Chinook Sales Take Off

Boeing’s CH-47 program is off and running in 2008, with a range of international prospects on the horizon.

"The pipeline’s pretty full," Boeing Program Manager Ken Eland told Rotor & Wing. "You can pretty much pick a country that has helicopters and we’re talking to them."

The F-model Chinooks made an unusually speedy transition to the foreign sales market. Boeing is building six for the Netherlands, for delivery in 2009-10. Purchased as a direct commercial sale, they went on contract about when the U.S. Army fielded its first CH-47 unit last year.

Canada is probably up next, though it has yet to finalize purchase details. Boeing is working with AgustaWestland to provide -47Fs for Italy, and Japan has indicated interest in augmenting its fleet, which includes more than 60 Chinooks, Eland said. Malaysia and Turkey are seeking a new aircraft, and India could be another big opportunity.

The United Kingdom also is upgrading its aircraft. In December, its Defence Ministry signed a £62 million contract with Boeing to convert eight Chinook Mk3s to a support helicopter role.

In 2007, Boeing delivered 30 -47Fs for the Army, four -47Gs for U.S. special forces, and two remanufactured -47Ds for Egypt. Eland said 2008 will be strong, but may not match those numbers.

The U.S. pays about $29 million for a basic -47F. Foreign prices vary with production options and order quantities. The -47G, which includes terrain-following and other advanced electronics, costs more; some of its systems are not cleared for export. — By Rebecca Christie

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