Airbus Joins Boeing for German Heavy-Lift Helicopter Program

Airbus Helicopters has joined Boeing’s H-47 Chinook program to develop the German military’s next-generation heavy-lift helicopter.

The H-47 is pitted against Sikorsky-Rheinmetall’s CH-53K King Stallion in a competition to replace the German Air Force’s aging fleet of 70 CH-53 Sea Stallions, due to retire by 2030.

The country revived the replacement plan last year after canceling it for financial reasons in 2020. If the Boeing-Airbus team wins the competition, the final contract is expected to cover 40-60 aircraft for over 4 billion euros ($4.4 billion). 

Current Operators

The CH-47 is currently operated by eight NATO and several other non-NATO countries such as India, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea. The Sikorsky is in service with the US, German and Japanese militaries. Israel signed a contract in December to procure 12 CH-53Ks.

Boeing vice president Mark Cherry said, “We are pleased that Airbus Helicopters has joined our team of strategic partners on the H-47 Chinook program for Germany, and together we will provide the strongest offering to the Bundeswehr.”

“The Chinook has been the preferred heavy-lift helicopter in Europe for decades and a cornerstone of all kinds of NATO operations. It is the only heavy-lift capable of providing Germany immediate interoperability with allied nations and is significantly more powerful, versatile and agile than any other aircraft in its class.”

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