Armys first CH-47F Chinooks commission
The ceremony at RAAF Base Townsville included an official blessing of the fleet by the regiment’s chaplain.
The two CH-47F Chinooks are the first of seven, which will replace Army’s existing fleets of CH-47D variants.
Head of Modernisation and Strategic Planning – Army Major General Gus McLachlan said Army rarely asked a group of men and women to introduce two complex systems at the same time.
“This regiment is in the process of mastering the MRH-90 and the CH-47F,” Maj-Gen McLachlan said.
“It is not something we would routinely ask a unit to do, unless we had incredible confidence in the men and women of the regiment.
“These aircraft will do what they are designed for.
“They will rescue Australian citizens in flood and disaster operations and be involved in inserting peacekeeping in the region and it is almost certain they will be used to insert Australian soldiers in combat in operations around the world.
“It is the nature of this particular aircraft and the life of systems like this.”
Defence Minister Kevin Andrews was at the ceremony as part of his first visit to Townsville.
He said the arrival of the CH-47F Chinooks was a significant step forward in Army’s ability to support operations in the field.
“The project, which represents a $631 million investment in Australia’s safety and security, will see the seven helicopters and two flight simulators with major equipment deliveries scheduled for completion by August this year,” Mr Andrews said.
“5 Avn Regt will achieve an initial operational capability with these new aircraft from December and a fully mature operational capability by January 2017.
“It is pleasing to see the project remains on schedule and, from Defence’s point of view, it remains under budget.”
Ongoing support for the new aircraft will be provided by a partnership of Boeing Defence Australia and BAE Systems Australia.
A new $49.8 million facility to house the Chinooks is under construction at RAAF Base Townsville.