The Australian Defence Force will acquire seven CH-47F Chinook helicopters under a A$513.5m contract signed with the US Army Security Assistance Command.

Defence personnel, materiel and science minister Greg Combet said that the aircraft would replace the existing fleet of six CH-47D Chinooks operated by C Squadron of the 5th Aviation Regiment based in Townsville.

“The first two aircraft are planned to enter service in 2014, with all seven in service by 2017,” he said.

“The acquisition of seven new CH-47F Chinook helicopters by the Australian Government will strengthen our ability to support our soldiers operating in Afghanistan in the future.”

The helicopters will incorporate Australian Defence Force-specific mission equipment enhancements including crashworthy crew and passenger seating, fitment of miniguns and underfloor ballistic protection.

Australia will also receive two simulators and associated spares under the contract.