Spain has finalized a deal for Boeing [BA] to upgrade its CH-47D Chinooks to the most-modern version of the heavylift helicopters.

Under the deal, part of a total $1.3 billion foreign military sales package greenlit by the U.S. State Department in April, Boeing will upgrade all 17 of Spain’s CH-47D Chinook helicopters to the F-model configuration, adding features such as the digital automatic flight control system, common avionics architecture system and advanced cargo handling to align that country’s fleet with those of other nations.

Boeing has manufactured more than 460 CH-47F Chinooks. Spain is one of 12 nations that has ordered the most current Chinook configuration. (Boeing photo)

“The Chinook is a versatile aircraft flown by eight NATO nations, including Spain,” said Chuck Dabundo, vice president of cargo and utility helicopters and H-47 program manager. “With this contract, Spain’s Chinook crews will enjoy the platform’s current technology and capability, while the country gets an affordable upgrade that builds on its existing H-47 investment.”

For the last 10 years, Boeing and the Defense Department were able to add a few dozen Chinook orders to the tail end of large U.S. buys as the Army baselines its fleet at F-model configuration. But plenty of existing foreign operators and potential newcomers still are interested in Block I Chinooks. Last year’s IDIQ contract leaves plenty of room for those customers to get the helicopters they want before Boeing shifts to production of Block II sometime around 2025.

Spain’s is the first order from a non-U.S. customer placed through an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract Boeing and the U.S. Army signed in July. That $181 million contract was for procurement of up to 156 Multi-Year II Block I configured CH-47F Chinook helicopters. Six of those aircraft are firm, and will be for the U.S. Army, according to Boeing.  The contract includes additional options of 150 aircraft for U.S. Army or foreign military sales customers.  The $181 million covers the six firm aircraft.

Deliveries to Spain begin in 2021. Legacy Spanish CH-47Ds will be transported to Boeing’s Chinook manufacturing facility in Ridley Park, Pa., where they will be upgraded to F-model configuration alongside U.S. Army aircraft undergoing the same modernization process.

The U.S. Army is currently configuring its entire fleet of Block I Chinooks as F-models. It simultaneously is funding a Block II modernization program that will include advanced rotor blades and increased lifting capacity, among other improvements. All three of the engineering and manufacturing development Block II aircraft are in final assembly in Pennsylvania with first flight scheduled sometime in the first half of 2019.