The US Army is moving ahead with plans to begin replacing its current remanufactured MH-47G Block 1 Chinook special mission helicopters with newbuild Block 2 platforms.
A request for information (RFI) issued by the Aviation Integration Division (AMCOM) on 14 March calls for an initial six newbuild MH-47G Block 2 Chinooks with an option for a further eight helicopters to partially replace the army’s 61 MH-47Gs that were made from remanufactured CH-47D and MH-47D/E airframes.
Fielded by the US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), the current MH-47G fleet comprises the 61 remanufactured Block 1 helicopters (62 were delivered – 35 CH-47Ds, 9 MH-47Ds, and 18 MH-47Es – although one was lost on operations in Afghanistan), as well as 8 newbuild MH-47Gs for a total fleet of 69 Block 1 platforms.
Derived from the baseline CH-47F heavy-lift Chinook, the MH-47G is a specialist special-mission platform that features double-capacity ‘fat’ fuel tanks, an in-flight aerial refuelling probe, a digital advanced flight control system, and classified sensors and electronic warfare kits specified by SOCOM. The USASOC’s MH-47Gs are among the most heavily utilised in the army’s inventory, and it is likely that all 69 Block 1 helicopters will eventually be replaced with Block 2 models.
The Block 2 enhancements, which are being developed for the US Army’s wider CH-47F fleet, include the Advanced Chinook Rotor Blade (ACRB), which features geometry and a new asymmetric aerofoil to increase the aircraft’s lift capacity by about 1,500 lb (680 kg) at 4,000 ft and 35°C in the hover (the army’s 4K/95 performance benchmark).
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