Boeing is planning to offer refurbished US Army surplus CH-47D Chinook cargo helicopters to customers across to the world, company officials announced at FIDAE 2014 in Santiago, Chile.
The US Army is remanufacturing its D-model Chinooks into the latest CH-47F configuration and buying some new F-models, and this scheme will leave a significant fleet of CH-47D helicopters available for sale.
Accordingly, over the next three years about 80 D-models are to be available and Chinook builder Boeing has arranged with the US Army to take over the airframes for international sale, Roberto Valla, the company's regional vice-president for the Americas, told reporters on 27 March.
The company is to begin a refurbishment programme "upon commitment from an international customer" and would ensure that the airframes have a minimum of 200 flight hours remaining before major maintenance is required, Valla said. Boeing would offer the Chinooks in a common D-model configuration but would include a five-year training, fielding, service, and support package that can be tailored to each potential customer.
Boeing believes it could sell around 24 CH-47Ds in Latin America, with a package of six helicopters and options for more likely being the standard, said Tom DeWald, regional director for Latin America international business development.
Chile, Colombia, and Brazil are among the states in the region that Boeing sees as possible buyers. Argentina formerly operated the CH-47C, but its fleet is no longer in service.
Valla said the company will market the Chinook to two primary groups: those that already operate medium- or heavy-lift helicopters (largely addressed in Latin America by Russian assets such as the Mil Mi-17 'Hip'), and those that have rotor craft experience, but no current medium- or heavy-lift platforms (such as Chile or Colombia) that can carry a 25,000 lb (11,300 kg) payload.
Rich Sneed, who works business development for global services and support at Boeing, said the US Army's D-model Chinooks have been kept in 'flyable storage' so refurbishment work is expected to be relatively minor. The scale of the work will depend on individual customer needs and may be done in the buyer's country with a local partner firm, Sneed added.
The aircraft could be delivered within 16-20 months after a customer makes its commitment, and could be done via a direct commercial sale (DMS), in which case Boeing would buy the aircraft from the US Army and then revamp and sell them; a foreign military sale (FMS), in which Boeing would work as a contractor for the army; or a hybrid option that leverages DMS and FMS aspects, according to Valla.
He said the company hopes CH-47D sales act as a bridge to possibly selling CH-47F upgrades to users once they become familiar with the D-model's capabilities.