In an agreement that will save the U.S. government more than $800 million, the Army and Boeing have signed a $4 billion multi-year contract for 177 CH-47F Chinook helicopters, with the Army holding options that could increase its total buy to 215 aircraft. Deliveries from the agreement, which is a cost-effective alternative to annually contracting for the aircraft, begin in 2015. “This multi-year contract provides unprecedented savings for the U.S. Army and American taxpayers,” said Col. Robert Barrie, U.S. Army project manager for Cargo Helicopters. “But the most important benefit is the continued support these aircraft will provide to soldiers in the field and civilians in distress.” The tandem-rotor Chinook is the backbone of combat, logistics and humanitarian operations for the U.S. Army and 18 other operators around the world. This order would eventually bring the Army’s CH-47F total procurement close to its target of 464 aircraft, including 24 to replace peacetime attrition aircraft. The Army’s current inventory stands at 241 F-model aircraft. There are 15 Army active duty and National Guard units operating the CH-47F, and a 16th is currently being equipped. CH-47F units have logged more than 86,000 combat hours in Afghanistan, maintaining an operational readiness rate of over 80 percent while conducting air assault, transport, and medical evacuation and support missions. “The U.S. Army is benefiting not only from the efficiencies of a multi-year contract but also from the production efficiency gains Boeing and our suppliers have made,” said Chuck Dabundo, vice president, Boeing Cargo Helicopter Programs. “That includes the $130 million investment we made to modernize the Chinook factory. This contract will enable Boeing and our partners and suppliers in 45 states to bring stability to the workforce and to invest in production tooling, processes and other capital improvements.”
In a parallel development India received its first C-17 Globemaster III in an attempt to increase its strategic and humanitarian capabilities globally:
The Indian Air Force (IAF) flew its first Boeing C-17 Globemaster III to India, becoming the newest operator of the leading airlifter. ”The C-17 will equip the Indian Air Force with amongst the world’s most advanced humanitarian and strategic capabilities,” said Air Vice Marshal SRK Nair, Assistant Chief of Air Staff Operations (Transport and Helicopters). “We have looked forward to this day when our Indian Air Force flies the first C-17 to its new home in India.” Boeing is on track to deliver four more C-17s to the IAF this year and five in 2014. This first aircraft was transferred today after completion of a flight test program at Edwards Air Force Base in Palmdale, Calif., that began following the Jan. 22 delivery. ”Congratulations to the Indian Air Force on this milestone as India joins the worldwide community of C-17 operators,” said Tommy Dunehew, Boeing vice president of Business Development for Mobility, Surveillance and Engagement. “Nations turn to the C-17 for the capability to perform a wide range of operations, from peacekeeping and disaster relief to troop movements from semi-prepared airfields. This aircraft will provide the Indian Air Force with the versatility to augment airlift capability.”
On the other hand, the second production A400M military airlifter (MSNB) produced by Airbus military made its maiden flight:
The second production Airbus Military A400M new generation airlifter has made its maiden flight. Known as MSN8, the aircraft made its first flight from Seville, Spain, the location of the A400M final assembly line on 7 June.It is scheduled for delivery to the French Air Force in the third quarter of the year. MSN7, which flew for the first time at the beginning of March this year, will be delivered to the French Air Force in the coming weeks.
Finally, the global aircraft industry is becoming aggressively competitive as the above developments prove. This is important in times of economic crisis and as Chinook Helicopters, C-17 Globemaster III, and A400M become better.