Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today announced that two additional CH-47D Chinook helicopters have been handed over to the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in Townsville.
The Chinook provides the ADF with an outstanding battlefield lift capability and has provided excellent service to Army for more than 25 years.
The purchase of the two ex-United States Army helicopters was approved by Government last November following the loss of a CH-47D Chinook on operations in Afghanistan in May 2011.
The CH-47D Chinook undertakes a wide range of missions, including troop movement, battlefield equipment transport, search and rescue and disaster relief roles.
These two aircraft will allow Army to more effectively manage its training and operational support programs whilst continuing to support continued operations in Afghanistan.
The Chinooks have 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 handover of the aircraft to Army marks the culmination of many thousands of hours of work by the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) and Defence Industry. DMO has been supported by a range of Australian companies to achieve the delivery of these aircraft to Army on schedule and to budget.
Companies such as Nova Defence, Townsville’s BAE Systems, Flying Colours Aviation and Columbia Helicopter Incorporated have helped support the successful delivery of these aircraft.
The CH-47D fleet will be replaced with seven new CH-47F Chinook helicopters from around 2016.
On Friday, 22 Jun 2012, an Australian Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter suffered a hard landing during combat support operations at a Coalition force patrol base in Kandahar province. It does not appear the hard landing was the result of enemy fire.
The cause of the accident will be investigated.
Due to the damage to the aircraft, it may not return to service prior to the end of July when the current CH-47 rotation in Afghanistan is due to complete operations. A decision will be made as to the most cost-effective location for repairs, which could result in returning the aircraft to Australia