The Australian Government has given second pass approval to a major project to acquire seven CH-47F Chinook helicopters for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) at a cost of around A$755m, according to Defence Minister John Faulkner.
Faulkner said that the government had now approved the details of this procurement, first announced in last year's white paper, which will replace the existing fleet of six CH-47D Chinooks.
"These new helicopters will give the ADF a robust, deployable medium-lift helicopter capability to 2040," he said.
"Capability and support issues in the current Chinook helicopters will be addressed with the acquisition of the new model aircraft, which will bring safety, supportability and operational benefits to the ADF.
"The new Chinooks will also receive some additional ADF-specific equipment to meet certain operational and safety requirements."
The new CH-47F features a strengthened airframe over the CH-47D, improved deployability and digital systems supporting safer flying.
Procured under project AIR 9000 phase 5C, the new helicopter fleet will be based at Townsville, where the existing CH-47D are operated by C-Squadron of the army's 5th Aviation Regiment.
The first two CH-47F aircraft are scheduled to enter service in 2014, with all seven in service by 2017.
The Chinook is a multimission helicopter capable of performing a wide range of roles, including moving combat units into battle, carrying out frontline aero-medical evacuation and performing a vital role in disaster relief.