Sides Aligned in Bid for Germany’s Next Heavy Helicopter

A US Army CH-47F in the static display at ILA Berlin 2018. (David Oliver)

US defence giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin went head-to-head at ILA Berlin 2018 in their efforts to replace Germany’s existing fleet of Sikorsky CH-53G heavy-lift helicopters. Boeing is offering the proven CH-47F/G Chinook and with a potential order for between 40-60 helicopters.

Both the US manufacturers have been building teams of German industrial partners which were revealed at ILA 2018. Boeing’s German team includes and Aero Bildung, CAE, Diehl, Honeywell, Liebherr, Reiser, Rockwell Collins and Rolls-Royce. For German interoperability, ten German companies are in the team and there is potential for more to join. It was also announced that Boeing and Rohde & Schwarz had reached an agreement to offer Rohde & Schwarz’s next-generation software-defined airborne radio (SDAR) into the flight systems of CH-47 Chinook helicopters.

Chuck Dabundo, Boeing’s vice president program manager of Cargo Helicopter Programs stressed the CH-47’s long and successful history with more than 900 produced in 55 years including eight NATO operators. He underlined the Chinook’s multi-mission capability including operating on skis, 100 percent power availability and side wind stability with no tail rotor. Dabunco said that Boeing has established two research sites in Germany and invests in a growing portfolio of research and technology projects with German industry, universities and research organisations.

Dr. Michael Haidinger, president Boeing Deutschland, said that Germany is looking for a low risk off-the-shelf solution with support, maintenance and training based in Germany. Both the CH-47F or the extended-range MH-47G are on offer depending on Germany’s requirements but air-to-air refuelling would be included with both variants. With production currently at four aircraft per week, Boeing would be well placed for deliveries of between 40-60 new helicopters to take place between 2023 and 2031.

Support and maintenance would be carried out in Germany as well as pilot and crew training with partner companies.

by David Oliver