Tuesday, June 28, 2022

$100B Military Boost: Amid Ukraine War, Boeing Secures Massive German Deal For Chinook Heavy-Lift Choppers

The war in Ukraine has resulted in tremendous revenues flowing into the cashbooks of defense contractors.

Germany’s ruling coalition and the main opposition recently reached an agreement to increase the country’s defense expenditure, following the previous announcement made by Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Scholz had announced shortly after the war began that Germany will dedicate $107 billion to a special fund for its military and increase defense spending by over 2% of the GDP.

An increase in military spending would translate to huge transactions for defense contractors around the world, who aim to buy state-of-the-art equipment to improve their combat readiness.

Keeping up with that premise, Germany has announced it will buy a fleet of Chinook CH-47F heavy-lift helicopters as part of its military upgrade.

Chinook
File Image: Chinook Choppers

The 60 Chinook helicopters to be purchased by Germany will replace an aging fleet of Sikorsky CH-53G helicopters. The defense contractors, on their part, are fighting a stiff battle with each other to bag the contracts running into billions of dollars.

The Chinooks were chosen over the Sikorsky because Chinooks are widely used in Europe and would allow Germany and its neighbors to cooperate militarily, according to Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht. The Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Spain, Turkey, the UK, Canada, and the US operate the Chinooks in the region.

Officials emphasized the benefits of interoperability with the Netherlands in particular. In a range of operational fields, the Bundeswehr already collaborates closely with the neighboring military services, according to Defense News.

The war in Ukraine has become business for the rest of the world. The German Ministry of Defense had canceled the heavy-lift competition in 2020 after Lockheed’s and Boeing’s proposals were considered too expensive. However, the war in Europe has kick-started the process.

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F-35A Lightning II (via Twitter)

Earlier in March, Germany announced that it was set to buy Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jets. The deal had come as a snub to Boeing which was hopeful of selling its F-18 Super Hornets to the country.

Sikorsky’s Loss Is Boeing’s Win

Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht revealed on June 1 that Germany planned to buy 60 F-model Chinooks in the Block II standard configuration with air-to-air refueling capability “after careful consideration of all factors.” The CH-47F Block II has a stronger airframe, and better avionics than the CH-47F Block I.

 

According to a Boeing representative, no formal letter of agreement has been signed yet. The decision to enter a US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program to replace Germany’s current fleet of Sikorsky CH-53G helicopters must still be approved by the German parliament.

The Boeing heavy-lift chopper beat out the CH-53K King Stallion from Sikorsky-Rheinmetall to win the contract to replace the German Air Force’s CH-53 Sea Stallion, which is set to retire in 2030.

Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion - Wikipedia
Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion – Wikipedia

Boeing announced a partnership with Airbus in March to compete in the Chinook competition. AERO-Bildung GmbH, CAE Elektronik GmbH, ESG Elektroniksystem und Logistik-GmbH, Lufthansa Technik, Honeywell Aerospace, and Rolls-Royce Deutschland are among the other firms that have joined with Boeing for the competition.

The decision “disappointed” Sikorsky, which is now owned by Lockheed Martin, and the company said it was waiting for a debriefing from the German Ministry of Defense. The company stated it is committed to “long-standing relationships supporting the German Armed Forces” as the builder of the in-service CH-53G.

For years, Chinook and the King Stallion have competed in the German STH program. The two choppers fought for the same program before, even though they are both heavy lifters with fundamentally different designs.

Chinooks Vs Sikorsky  

The Chinook CH-47F is an enhanced version of the CH-47D  heavy-lift helicopter. The CH-47F is equipped with a fully integrated digital cockpit management system and a Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) Cockpit, according to Boeing.

The helicopter design also includes structural improvements and adjustments to the airframe structure to cut vibrations. Troops, supplies, and military equipment can all be transported using aircraft. It can also assist with activities such as search and rescue, disaster relief, medical evacuation, and others.

For decades, the tandem-rotor CH-47 Chinook has served with the US Army and other militaries. On a 95-degree Fahrenheit day, the CH-47 can take off with a gross weight of 46,280 pounds at 4,000 feet in the current F-model configuration.

Furthermore, Boeing and the US Army are also working on a Block II version with a more durable airframe and improved avionics. The configuration was designed to increase a Chinook’s takeoff weight to 48,000 pounds, thanks to new improved rotor blades.

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Chinook CH-47F (via Twitter)

Chinook F models can carry 36 personnel, have a 26,000-pound external sling-load capability when using the center hook, and are powered by twin Lycoming T55-GA714A engines with 4,733 shaft horsepower each.

Boeing has also flown the CH-47F with more powerful General Electric T408 engines, which are also used on the CH-53K, in collaboration with the Army.

Meanwhile, the CH-53K is a successor to Germany’s existing CH-53G aircraft. It’s designed for use on ships in rough maritime and coastal conditions. After a turbulent development process marked by growing troubles, the single-main-rotor helicopter has just recently entered service with the US Marine Corps.

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Marines assess the landing zone after debarking a CH-53K King Stallion during Exercise Potomac Restore, at Oak Grove, North Carolina. (US. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Jackson Kirkiewicz)- Twitter

Three 7,500-shaft-horsepower General Electric GE38-1B engines power each King Stallion, providing immense lifting power for a maximum takeoff gross weight of 88,000 pounds. Besides pilots and crew, the CH-53K can transport 37 troops and hoist loads up to 36,000 pounds on an external center hook.

“The CH-53K was designed by the US Marines Corps to meet the rigors of the 21st-century deployments and to operate as a ‘system of systems’ within the US armed forces and NATO. As a digital helicopter with state of the art communication and data link capabilities, it is well suited for customization of integrated additional capability by German industry”, according to Lockheed Martin. However, Boeing has owned this contest!

In recent times Germany has dramatically cut down energy imports from Russia owing to the war but has squeezed out billions of dollars to upgrade its military in the face of the Russian threat. It had come under the radar of former US President Donald Trump for not spending enough on defense as a NATO member.

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