Boeing [BA] is now producing eight CH-47G heavy lift Chinook helicopters for the Special Operations community.

The total fleet will be 69 aircraft, with 61 delivered. The remaining eight will be the new build craft under the new contract.  

“It was a three-step process,” Mark Ballew, director of Business Development for Vertical Lift Tiltrotor & Cargo Helicopter Programs for Boeing, told Defense Daily at the Association of the United States Army annual conference Oct. 21. 

The first step was buying long-lead items for the first aircraft. The second step was buying long-lead items for aircraft two through eight, and production of the first aircraft. 

The third step was the award of a $78.2 million non-multi-year, no option, firm fixed price contract to define a delivery order of a basic ordering agreement for seven MH-47G new nuild helicopters. The funding came from fiscal 2013 operation and maintenance for the Army and other appropriations. 

There are some changes for the G models under the new contract; for example, they will be the first machined airframes.

“They are the first new Gs in the past 30 years,” Ballew said. The helicopters will also leverage other avionics enhancements. 

G model production work is under way as is work on the CH-47F Chinooks. To date, more than 263 of the F models have been produced, Ballew said.

The signing of the Multi-Year 2 contract “buys the rest of the program of record, and we’ll have 464 delivered by the end of 2019,” he said.

The Army program runs 2006-2019.

Right now there are 10 international F model customers.

Boeing is in the final stages of negotiation with India, which selected the Boeing Chinook for its heavy-lift helicopter program.

“We can see the end zone,” Ballew said. The work is likely to be finished in early 2014.

The Army plans to fly the Chinook out to 2045, he said, and improvements will likely see the F fleet come back through the factory for improvements.  

Already, the first sets of the Cargo-On-Cargo-Off Logistics System (COOLS) are being used in Afghanistan, and “work exceedingly well,” he said. 

It will be incorporated into F models as part of the Multi-Year 2 contract. 

With Chinook expected to another 30-plus years, Boeing is looking at other potential improvements such as a modular fuel system, improved drive train and ways to reduce weight, and advanced rotor blade. 

Design work is now being done to ensure Chinook can operate efficiently and effectively in 2040.