The US Army is to shortly award its first low-rate initial production (LRIP) contract for the Block 2 Boeing CH-47F Chinook helicopter.
A pre-solicitation notice posted by the Army Contracting Command-Redstone on 10 January says that the service is to award Boeing an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract for between four and 14 helicopters to be delivered from fiscal year (FY) 2021 until FY 2022. No contract value was disclosed, and the army did not say when it is to be awarded.
News of the imminent award of the first LRIP contract for the Block 2 Chinook comes some six months after Boeing began final assembly of the first prototype ahead of its maiden flight in the coming months, and some 18 months after the company was contracted to begin Block 2 development work at its production facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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 Advanced Chinook Rotor Blades (ACRBs) and a more pointed nose for avionics growth will be the two features that enable physical identification of a Block 2 Chinook from its Block 1 predecessor.
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