The US Army will formally issue a request for proposals for production of Boeing CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopter fleet in a Block 2 configuration by March 2016.
At a press briefing at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), the army’s project manager for cargo helicopters, Col. Rob Barrie was quoted as saying by Janes news website Monday that, “The RFPs and milestone B decisions are as per the schedule. Milestone B is exected to coincide with engineering and manufacturing contract.”
"We expect an early 2016 RfP decision," he said. While Block 2 enhancements for the MH-47G and CH-47F are still being defined, survivability and performance upgrades will largely be based on existing technologies, Barrie said. An analysis of alternatives will be presented to senior leaders by the end of 2015.
The army hopes to quickly get Milestone B approval following the RfP release and then enter an engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase.
Specific technologies for Block 2 have not been named, but one option being proposed by Boeing is the Advanced Chinook Rotor Blade (ACRB). The enhancement would raise the baseline CH-47F's payload from the current 10,886 kg to about 16,286 kg, according to Boeing. Still under development, the ACRB features a new asymmetric aerofoil to increase the lift by approximately 900 kg per blade (5,400 kg for the helicopter).
Company officials said that the ACRB could be ready for fielding in about 2019. They declined to define the financial investment they have made in Block 2 technologies, but they did say that they have been spending to develop new materials and other methods to enable advanced technologies for the past five years.