|PHOTO / U.S. ARMY|
On August 16, the Boeing CH-47 Chinook achieves the formidable feat of being 50 years in service. It was on that date in 1962 when the first CH-47A was delivered to the US Army. Amazingly, the airframe is still flying. In fact, it recently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan, and is now being remanufactured, refurbished (35% of the original platform will remain) and prepared for redeployment back to Afghanistan by the end of the year. Boeing in fact believes that with prospective orders from the US Army, the USAF for combat search and rescue copters, and foreign customers, the Chinook could well be in service for a century.
The CH-47F, as is well known, competes for an Indian Air Force contract against the Russian Mil Mi-26 T2, the world’s largest helicopter, for a heavylift copter contract. Trials on both platforms happened in 2010-11. Mark Ballew, director for Rotorcraft Business Development at Boeing Defense in Philadelphia says, “The Mi-26 is still in the competition, so we have no reason to believe that they didn’t perform well in the trials.”
I got the sense that while Boeing is fully confident of a win in the IAF attack copter competition (will be touring the Apache facility in Mesa, Arizona on Monday), it is still only cautiously optimistic on the heavylift bid that calls for 15 helicopters. Also, the Indian Air Force already operates a small number of Mi-26s from its Chandigarh station. Boeing sources say the Chinook’s versatility, availability and deployment patterns have persuaded the IAF on the advantages of a tandem rotor system.The Chinook on offer to the IAF is very similar to the one operated by the US Army, but, as with all equipment, will be without speech encryption, certain sensors and communications kit protected under CISMOA.
And of course there was a question about this photograph 😉
Landed in Seattle today. Tour of the P-8A/I facilities in a few hours.