The Australian Defence Force has bought two more Chinook helicopters following the loss of one in Afghanistan earlier this year, bolstering its fleet to seven.
Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and the Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare made the announcement yesterday. The additional aircraft will reduce pressure on the training and maintenance schedule for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Chinook fleet resulting in enhanced support to the two Chinook’s currently deployed to the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO). In May this year a Chinook was lost whilst on operations in Afghanistan.
The two additional aircraft have been sourced from the United States, and will be transported to Australia for servicing and modification to the current Australian CH-47D configuration. The aircraft are expected to arrive in Townsville by the end of January next year and are anticipated to be ready for domestic operations from mid-2012.
“This procurement will ensure the continued utility of Chinook aircraft on overseas operations, domestically through Defence Assistance to the Civil Community and in training and sustainment of aircrews,” the Australian ministry of defence said.
The CH-47D Chinook has been deployed on Operation Slipper in Afghanistan since 2006. They have performed an outstanding service for both ADF and ISAF forces and are in high demand across Afghanistan due to its superior performance in hot and high altitude conditions.
The CH-47D Chinook first entered ADF service in 1995. The CH-47D fleet will be replaced with seven new CH-47F Chinook helicopters from around 2016.