The Australian Army has taken delivery of the seventh and final CH-47F Chinook multi-mission helicopter from Boeing, on budget and three weeks ahead of the original schedule.
In March 2010, the Australian Defence Materiel Organisation signed a $513.5m contract with the US Army Security Assistance Command for the supply of seven Chinooks, along with two simulators and associated spares.
The helicopters will support modernisation of Australia's cargo helicopter fleet and eventually replace the country's six ageing CH-47D Chinooks.
Boeing Cargo Helicopters vice-president and H-47 programme manager Steve Parker said: "Boeing is committed to meeting our customers' needs anywhere in the world with the right capability, delivered on time and cost. These early deliveries demonstrate that commitment."
Incorporating some major enhancements, including a digital cockpit, an advanced communications system and new avionics, the helicopters are expected to enable the Australian Army to operate more effectively with US and international forces through the easy exchange of digital maps that facilitate coordinated responses for military and humanitarian missions.
Australian Department of Defence rear admiral Tony Dalton said: "Our CH-47D Chinooks have been real workhorses for Australia, both here and on operations overseas, and our new CH-47F Chinooks are set to be even more dependable, affordable and capable assets."
The Australian Chinook configuration also features a new rotor brake that allows for shipboard operations by actively stopping the rotor blades and preventing them from natural 'spin down' once the engine is turned off after landing.
The helicopters are scheduled to be operated by the Australian Army's 5th Aviation Regiment, 16th Aviation Brigade, from their home base in northern Queensland, Australia.
Boeing Defence Australia will provide on-site operational maintenance support for the new CH-47F fleet. The company has been supporting the CH-47D aircraft since 2010.
In addition, a new $49.8m facility to house the new fleet is under construction at RAAF Base Townsville in Queensland.
Image: The Australian CH-47F Chinook helicopter features a new rotor brake that allows for shipboard operations. Photo: courtesy of the Boeing Company.