The Australian Defence Ministry has awarded a contract to BAE Systems to maintain the army’s fleet of CH-47D Chinook helicopters, Defence Materiel Minister Jason Clare has said.

Under the $20.9m contract, Bae will provide scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, repairs, engineering and logistics support services to the Chinooks for the next six years.

“They have also been hard at work supporting our troops in Afghanistan in recent times providing logistical support and moving combat units into battle. None of this happens if they aren’t well maintained,” Clare added.

The Australian Army currently operates six CH-47Ds that would be replaced with seven CH-47F helicopters by 2017.

The Chinook fleet has been operated by the 5th Aviation Regiment since 1995 and has operated as the Australian Defence Force’s deployable medium-lift helicopter capability.