About Me

My photo
MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH) is the world's leading international tri-service defence monthly magazine in the English language. MILITARY TECHNOLOGY is "Required Reading for Defence Professionals". Follow us on Twitter: MILTECH1

02 June 2016

ILA 2016: Boeing Very Interested to Work with German Industry

At an ILA 2016 Berlin Airshow press conference, Michael Hostetter, Director Vertical Lift Programs Germany, Boeing, gave an overview of their offering to the German Air Force (Luftwaffe), who is seeking to take delivery of a new helicopter, replacement of the existing CH-53G/GA/GS heavy lift helicopters. By 2022 the 80 aircraft in current inventory need to be replaced, which means selection and contract award will need to be achieved early in 2016.

Michael Hostetter, Director Vertical Lift Programs Germany, Boeing, gave an overview of their CHINOOK offering to the Luftwaffe’s helicopter replacement programme. (Photos: Mönech)

Over 350 CH-47F CHINOOKs have been sold with approx. 90 F-ER (Extended Range) models on top of that. The type has established a reputation for providing reliable capability since the A variant first appeared in 1962 and an incremental programme of design enhancement has kept its capabilities in line with developing requirements. The US Army, which has an ongoing programme of acquisition of 473 aircraft, well over 300 of which have already been delivered, will operate the CHINOOK until at least 2060. The US Coast Guard (USCG) signed a five year contract for the type in 2013. Further countries flying the CHINOOK are Canada, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK, and Turkey, the latter having signed a contract for 11 F-modells via FMS.

Twin rotor helicopters offer several advantages for operators, including higher service ceilings, ease of loading/unloading, an increased centre of gravity and greater stability in high winds, according to Boeing. The CH-47 is in use in cargo/troop carrying, special operations forces, casualty evacuation, air assault, SAR, and firefighting roles by the nations that operate it. Boeing’s enhancement programme over the last five decades has taken note of operational experience and lessons learned, resulting in the F variant, introduced from 2007, being a thoroughly modern aircraft.

Featuring an integrated Heads-Up Display (HUD), the CH-47F also benefits from a Rockwell Collins Common Aviation Architecture System (CAAS) cockpit, which enables the pilot to plan a flight route, integrate known airspace information onto a moving map display and make real time changes. It also provides for greatly enhanced situational awareness, an essential commodity in the highly pressurised environment of combat helicopter operations. Passive survivability has been improved with an advanced Infrared Signature Suppression System (IRSS), while a Common Missile Warning System, and an improved countermeasure dispenser enhance the rotorcraft’s self-defence capabilities.

A Digital Automatic Flight Control System (DAFCS) replaces the analogue system installed in earlier variants. Using DAFCS the pilot picks a destination, at which point the helicopter can fly there in ‘hands-free’ mode, then hold position, moving in increments of only one foot in both lateral and vertical axes at the touch of a button. Flight Data Recorders and a Cockpit Voice Recorder are also features of the CH-47F cockpit. The combination of improved avionics, enhanced flight controls and much more effective self-defence measures make the CH-47F a powerful and capable contender for the Luftwaffe’s requirement.

The potential does not stop there, however. In prospect for the CH-47F Block II – which will feature significantly increased payload and range – is the Advanced CHINOOK Rotor Blade, which will provide an additional 2,000lbs. of useful lift, according to Boeing. The maximum gross weight (GW) of the F variant has increased to 50,000lbs. (22,680kg) from the 33,000lbs. (15,000kg) of the original A variant. In addition, the useful load of the helicopter is 24,000lbs. (10,886kg) – an impressive 48% of maximum GW.

Powered by two Honeywell T55-GA-714A turboshaft engines each developing 3,529kW, the CH-47F provides operators with a maximum speed of 315km/h, a service ceiling of 20,000ft (6,100m) and a comfortable mission radius of 370 kilometres.

Of increasing importance to the user is the through life cost of any complex platform such as a military helicopter and that requires careful attention be paid to ease and effectiveness of routine maintenance. The CH-47F features an Interactive Electronic Technical Maintenance Management System that offers greatly improved reliability. In addition, the machined airframe provides for significant reductions in maintenance crew workload, Boeing asserts.

The Luftwaffe will use its heavy lift helicopters for a wide variety of roles, including SOF and CSAR. As a result, it has a demand for an inflight refuelling capacity, despite having no tankers currently capable of providing such facilities for helicopters. Nevertheless, the German demand is likely to require such a capability being designed into its new heavy lift rotorcraft from the outset, preparing for the day it does become available.

Hostetter explained that Boeing is very flexible, being able to tailor a helicopter to specific customer needs. “Boeing has kept every promise we have made,” he told MT at ILA. This also applies to training programmes that could be part of the package. As Germany has not issued any requirements, the industry expert was not able to give details, but believes the German MoD will have a budget of €3 billion available, with the customer understanding how much the CHINOOK costs today.

Germany tends to procure through direct commercial sales,” he said, explaining that Boeing has production orders beyond 200 CHINOOKs (150-200 ER models) in the next five years, while being able to ramp up production up to 70 helicopters a year.

Again not having customer requirements yet, Hostetter was reluctant to disclose German industry involvement, but said: “We have engage with German industry, and are very interested to work with them.”

The CHINOOK programmw has reached a high, steady and long term production rate, and will ensure this heavy lift helicopter remains relevant through the 2060s.

The RAF brought an H-47 CHINOOK Mk.4 to ILA 2016.