After canceling the purchase of 16 Mi-17s worth more than $220 million with Russia to avoid Washington sanctions, the Philippines is considering buying CH-47F Chinook helicopters from the US.
Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez said: the Chinooks would replace existing hardware used for the movement of troops and in disaster preparedness in the Southeast Asian country. The United States is willing to strike a deal for the amount the Philippines was set to spend on the Russian helicopters, Romualdez said, adding the deal with Washington will likely include maintenance, service and parts. The Philippines is pursuing discussions with Russia to recover its $38 million down payment for the helicopters, the delivery of which was supposed to start in November next year, or 24 months after the contract was signed.
The Philippines is at the tail-end of a five-year, 300 billion-pesos modernisation of its outdated military hardware that includes warships from World War Two and helicopters used by the United States in the Vietnam War. The CH-47 is among Western-made helicopters that have a high lifting capacity. This will be a valuable alternative for the Philippines if the deal is successful.
Today’s Chinook doesn’t have much in common with its 1960s forebears. For starters, it carries twice as much payload, is equipped with a raft of self-protection devices, and in its latest version is fully digitized. Despite the added weight, Chinook remains the fastest rotorcraft in the Army fleet thanks to its tandem rotors, capable of carrying up to 55 soldiers long distances at a speed approaching 200 miles per hour.
The CH-47F that the Philippines is eyeing is an upgraded version of the CH-47D. Upgrades include 4,868-shaft-horsepower Honeywell engines and the airframe featuring greater single-piece construction to lower maintenance requirements. The milled construction reduces vibration, as well as inspection and repair needs, and eliminates flexing points to increase service life. The CH-47F can fly at speeds of over 175 mph with a payload of more than 21,000 lb. New avionics include a Rockwell Collins Common Avionics Architecture System cockpit, and BAE Systems’ Digital Advanced Flight Control System. Boeing delivered 48 CH-47Fs to the U.S. Army through August 2008; at that time Boeing announced a $4.8 billion contract with the Army for 191 Chinooks. Ch-47F is considered one of the two best heavy helicopters in the world next to the Russian Mi-26T.