Germany to buy 60 CH-47F Chinooks

Germany has selected the Boeing CH-47F Chinook Block II to replace its current fleet of CH-53G Sea Stallions, which have been in service for almost 50 years.

German CH-47F impression
An impression of a CH-47F Block II Chinook in German markings. Note the in-flight refuelling probe, which will be a standard fit for the German version. Boeing Defense

The German Department of Defence made the decision to purchase 60 CH-47Fs on June 1 and anticipates that all 60 will be procured by 2030, with deliveries expected to begin in 2023 and be completed in 2029.

Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said: “We carefully weighed up the advantages and disadvantages as well as the risks – and then unanimously voted in favour of this model. The Chinook is modern and tried and tested. With this model we are strengthening our ability to co-operate in Europe. In addition, we are getting a larger fleet here and gaining flexibility.”

She had previously informed the Bundestag about the decision in her speech on the 2022 defence budget. Parliament still has to approve the decision on a corresponding €25m bill. They will be financed from the Bundeswehr’s special fund. The Chinook is already used by partner nations in Europe and worldwide, which had an influence on the decision, as it increases interoperability within NATO, in particular the Netherlands, which already operates the type. Germany will acquire the modernised Block II Standard Range variant. Its CH-47Fs will also be equipped so that they can be refuelled in the air.

GErman CH-47F refuel from KC-130J
An artist's concept of a German CH-47F refuelling from a KC-130J Hercules while two others fly alongside. Boeing Defense

Following the decision, a statement from Boeing said: “Boeing is honoured the German government has selected the CH-47F Chinook for its future heavy-lift helicopter requirements. We look forward to working with the US and German governments to finalize this sale under the Foreign Military Sales process. Together with our Chinook Deutschland Industry Team – AERO-Bildung GmbH, Airbus Helicopters Deutschland, CAE GmbH, ESG Elektroniksystem-und Logistik-GmbH, Honeywell Aerospace, Lufthansa Technik AG and Rolls-Royce Deutschland Ltd. & Co.KG – we are committed to delivering maximum operational availability to the German Bundeswehr for decades to come.”

The current CH-53s will be decommissioned in 2030. The CH-47F had been competing with the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion in the so-called Schwerer Transporthubschrauber (STH, Heavy Transport Helicopter) programme competition, but ultimately the Chinook’s lower per-unit cost swung the decision in its favour, as it allowed a greater number to be purchased within budget constraints. The STH competition had been ongoing for years, having previously been abandoned when offers came in beyond the available budget, but was then restarted in 2020.