WASHINGTON — The German government will purchase 60 Boeing Chinook heavy-lift helicopters to equip the armed forces in a deal reportedly worth upwards of $4 billion, according to a Ministry of Defense announcement on Wednesday.
The CH-47F Block 2 “Standard Range” variant aircraft are refuelable during flight, a key requirement for the German armed forces, the statement said. They are slated to replace the Bundeswehr’s fleet of aging CH-53, made by Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky.
Lockheed also had put in a bid for the contract, offering its CH-53K King Stallion. The Chinook’s lower per-unit price made the difference, according to the Ministry of Defense, as it would allow Berlin to buy the maximum number of aircraft out of a range previously billed as 45 to 60 copies. That, in turn, would increase “operational flexibility” with a helicopter type used widely among NATO partners.
Officials stressed interoperability benefits with the Netherlands, in particular. The Bundeswehr already works closely with the neighbor’s armed forces across a variety of operational domains.
Citing government planning data, Reuters reported Wednesday the Boeing deal would be worth roughly $4.3 billion, with deliveries starting in 2023 and lasting through 2029.
The Chinook pick caps a years-long saga for Germany to buy a new Schwerer Transporthubschrauber, or STH, as the heavy-lift chopper program is called in German. Officials initially wanted a no-frills workhorse to support troops, but developmental frills were nevertheless added, resulting in offers so expensive that the government walked away and initiated a redo in 2020.
The strategy since then has been to prepare a purchase that would require little to no national modifications. Officials have previously said they want to award a contract by the end of the year. Spending money on off-the-rack hardware from the United States could help quickly turn an expected spike of defense cash into modernized equipment with little risk, according to analysts.
Sebastian Sprenger is associate editor for Europe at Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, and on U.S.-Europe cooperation and multi-national investments in defense and global security. Previously he served as managing editor for Defense News. He is based in Cologne, Germany.