Air Transportation: South Korea Makes A Deal


December 23, 2013: South Korea wants to buy 14 American CH-47D transport helicopters. Actually South Korea wants to buy 14 CH-47Ds that are stationed in South Korea, along with all their spare parts and maintenance equipment. South Korea would pay $10.8 million per helicopter and would get them starting in 2014 as the new CH-47Fs arrive to replace the older models in the U.S. Army transportation unit in South Korea. It would cost the U.S. about a million dollars to transport each of the older CH-47Ds back to the U.S., or about the same amount to scrap them. It’s a good deal for the South Koreans because the used CH-47Ds have been well maintained and are obviously acclimated to operations in South Korea.

This is all part of an effort to upgrade or replace most CH-47D "Chinook" transport helicopters to the new CH-47F, which costs over $40 million each brand new. South Korea joins a growing list of American allies that want CH-47 transport helicopters. The 22 ton CH-47F can carry ten tons of cargo, or up to 55 troops, and has a maximum range of 426 kilometers. Its max speed is 315 kilometers an hour. Typical missions last no more than three hours. It is the best helicopter for use in Afghanistan, or South Korea, having proved able to deal with the dust and high altitude operations better than other transport choppers.

The first CH-47s entered service in 1962, able to carry only five tons. Some 750 saw service in Vietnam and 200 were lost in action. During 1982-94, 500 CH-47s were rebuilt to the CH-47D standard, which doubled carrying capacity to ten tons and made the helicopter more reliable and easier to operate. The CH-47F increases the reliability and ease of use.

SOCOM operates 31 MH-47Ds and Es, which have additional navigation gear. These are being upgraded to MH-47F standards and the fleet expanded to 61 helicopters. As a result of all this, the CH-47 will end up serving at least 75 years. The CH-47F upgrades and new builds will not be completed until 2018.





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