Boeing has begun final assembly of the first prototype Block 2 Chinook heavy-lift helicopter at its Philadelphia production facility in Pennsylvania, the company announced on 27 June.
The commencement of assembly of the first of three engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) helicopters comes some 12 months after the US Army contracted Boeing to begin Block 2 development of the CH-47F and MH-47G Chinooks.
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). It also includes a new drive system to accommodate the higher torque levels; a single segment fuel tank in each side sponson, compared with the three now; electrical system enhancements; and some other unspecified improvements.
Block 2 will also open the door to an improved engine for the Chinook, via the Future Affordable Turbine Engine (FATE) programme. The ACRB blades and a more pointed nose for avionics growth will be the two features that enable the physical identification of a Block 2 Chinook from its Block 1 predecessor.
According to the company, this first EMD helicopter will be ready in 2019 with flight trials to follow shortly after. Deliveries of new production-standard Block 2 Chinooks to the US Army and Special Operations Command will begin in 2023, with retrofits to more than 500 Block 1 Chinooks commencing at about the same time for a final Block 2 fleet of 473 CH-47F and 69 MH-47G helicopters.
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