Australia reveals slower CH-47F acquisition plan
Australia does not expect to achieve initial operational capability with this proposed fleet of seven new Boeing CH-47F Chinook helicopters before 2016 and is planning to issue tenders later this year for a deeper maintenance support capability for its six existing CH-47D aircraft.
Australia’s latest defence capability plan (DCP) issued 1 July says the new aircraft are expected to be fielded between 2016 and 2018.
The DCP says that government approvals to proceed with the CH-47F acquisition may not occur until mid 2012. This is despite Australia lodging a $US560 million foreign military sales acquisition application for the aircraft with the United States Department of Defence on 6 April.
The new DCP confirms that Australian planning up until earlier this year was predicated on acquisition of three new build CH-47Fs and remanufacture of the existing CH-47D aircraft to CH-47F configuration. That original plan was approved by the Australian government in September 2007.
The new project plan “combines the objectives of the previous phases…under a single project.
“The new phase…ensures that the Australian Defence Force has a viable future Chinook capability which is aligned to the US army configuration and support systems throughout its life of type” says the DCP.
While FMS remains the planned purchase mechanism, the new DCP says that Australian industry is expected to realise work opportunities on the new aircraft through “design and fitment of additional mission equipment to the CH-47F aircraft once they are delivered to Australia”.
Planning is also underway for setting up contracted maintenance support for the new aircraft.
The DCP says that “it is anticipated that, in the same approach as the CH-47D capability, unit level maintenance could be carried out by army personnel while deeper maintenance and other support will be contracted to Australian industry.
“The CH-47D deeper maintenance request for tender will be released later in 2009 for work commencing from 2010. The scope of this request for tender may also include CH-47F deeper maintenance from 2015 onwards.”
The FMS application lodged by Australia in April sought seven aircraft in US army configuration, sixteen T55-GA-714A Turbine engines, seven M134D Dillon Aero Miniguns, 16 AN/ARC-201D Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radios (SINCGARS), seven Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below Blue Force Trackers (FBCB2/BFT), mission equipment, communication and navigation equipment, ground support equipment, and other spares.
By Peter La Franchi, Adelaide
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