July 28 (UPI) -- Boeing has been awarded a $276.6 million contract for engineering work and manufacturing development for the CH-47F Chinook Block II program, the Department of Defense announced on Thursday.
The work will be conducted in Ridley Park, Penn., and is projected to be completed by July 27, 2020. The program has been obligated $27.3 million in fiscal 2017 funds from the Army.
The Block II program will upgrade existing CH-47F and special operations MH-47G Chinooks totaling 542 airframes. The retrofitting will include new composite rotor blades for better performance, drivetrain upgrades, and a strengthened airframe. Its payload capacity has also been increased by a ton.
The upgrades are expected to be delivered from 2023 until the 2040s, with possible further life extensions for the Chinook in the future.
The CH-47F Chinook is a twin-engine tandem rotor heavy-lift transport helicopter used by the U.S. Army and many NATO and allied nations. Its primary mission is to transport troops and large payloads at high speed and long ranges.
The rotorcraft is capable of external sling-load operations, placing artillery, battlefield resupply, and air assault. The CH-47 series has been in use since its introduction in 1962 and has been upgraded and refurbished many times.
The MH-47G special operations helicopter has been upgraded with digital avionics and flight control systems, a monolithic airframe instead of assembled sheet metal for greater strength and is modified for easier transportation by cargo aircraft.