The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has announced State Department approval for the sale of four Boeing CH-47F Chinook helicopters to Australia.
If progressed, the estimated US$259m (A$333m) foreign military sale (FMS) would bring Australia’s CH-47F fleet – operated by the Australian Army’s C-Squadron at Townsville – to 14 aircraft.
The CH-47F was acquired under Project AIR 9000 Phase 5C, and the 10 aircraft were ordered in two batches of seven and three aircraft to replace a six CH-47Ds from 2015. The 2020 Defence Strategic Update and the accompanying Force Structure Plan flagged the possible acquisition of additional medium/heavy lift helicopters for Army.
The Army continues to suffer from reduced availability of its 41 Airbus MRH 90 Taipans helicopters, and, as reported last October, is looking to lease or acquire an Army interim helicopter capability (AIHC) under ‘Plan Corella’ to complement the Taipans of the Townsville-based 5 Aviation Regiment (5Avn).
While the additional Chinooks will provide additional operational capability, ADBR understands Army will continue to execute Plan Corella in order to provide additional continuation training throughput for Army pilots waiting for MRH 90 slots.