After Germany selected Boeing [BA] as the winner of its future heavy-lift helicopter competition last June, the U.S. has officially approved a potential $8.5 billion deal for the sale of 60 CH-47F Block II Chinook helicopters with Berlin.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress on Thursday of the new foreign military sale.

CH-47F Block II. Photo: U.S. Army.

“The proposed sale will improve Germany’s heavy lift capability. Germany intends to use this enhanced capability to strengthen its homeland defense and deter regional threats,” the DSCA said in a statement.

Germany previously selected Boeing’s CH-47F Block II as the winner of its competition to find a replacement for its CH-53G heavy-lift helicopters, beating out Sikorsky’s [LMT] CH-53K offering (Defense Daily, June 1 2022). 

“We thoroughly weighed up the pros and cons, as well as the risks – and then came to a unanimous decision in favor of this model. The Chinook is modern and proven. With this model, we are strengthening our cooperation capability in Europe. In addition, we get a larger fleet here and gain flexibility,” Germany Federal Minister of Defence Christine Lambrecht said in a statement at the time, translated from German to English.

The State Department noted the FMS case covers 60 CH-47F Block IIs “with customer-unique modifications,” with Germany set to receive 140 Honeywell [HON]-built T-55 engines, 72 of BAE Systems’ AN/AAR-57 Common Missile Warning Systems and 284 AN/ARC-231A COMSEC radios.

The deal also includes AN/AVR-2B Laser Detecting Sets, AN/APR-39C(V)1 Radar Detecting Sets, AN/ARC-220 HF radios with electronic counter-countermeasures, Digital Advanced Flight Control Systems and additional equipment for the heavy-lift helicopters.

Doug Bush, the Army’s top acquisition official, has cited international interest in the CH-47F Block II, to include the German procurement, as a key factor for additional production opportunities while the service continues assessing how it will proceed on the program.

“One thing that has changed is the good news that the German military has decided to buy the CH-47…which gives us an opportunity to retain that workforce whichever direction the Army ultimately goes. It buys us some more time,” Bush said during a House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee hearing last month. 

The Army has not included funding for CH-47F Block II in its recent budget requests as it assesses the path forward for the program, while Congress has added funds in final appropriations bills covering a few aircraft to sustain what a lead Boeing program official has called a “minimum sustainable rate” for the upgraded aircraft.

Ken Eland, Boeing’s vice president and H-47 program manager, told reporters in April the company is eyeing a Milestone C decision in FY ‘25 from the Army on moving the CH-47F Block II into full-rate production, but is “apprehensive” if it’s pushed into FY ‘26 or later (Defense Daily, April 27). 

Eland said Boeing is confident Congress will add additional funding for FY ‘24 to produce a small number of CH-47F Block IIs, with the Army once again only including six MH-47G helicopters, the Special Operations variant of the platform, in its budget request.