05 Aug 15. Boom time beckons for Iranian air force, with sanctions set to be lifted. Just weeks after Iran agreed in Vienna a deal limiting its ability to manufacture a nuclear bomb, the Iranian air force is already positioning itself to revamp its ageing inventory, all but crippled by 36 years of international sanctions, reports Gareth Jennings .
Under a deal signed on 14 July between the Iranian government and the leaders of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, international economic sanctions on Iran will be lifted now that Tehran has agreed to limit its nuclear activities.
For the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF), this represents an unparalleled opportunity to recapitalise an inventory of outdated and increasingly unserviceable aircraft types that were either received from the United States ahead of the country’s revolution in 1979 or seized from Iraq following the Gulf War in 1991. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
05 Aug 15. US Army to acquire enhanced MH-47G Block 2 Chinooks. The US Army is looking to renew production of the Boeing MH-47G Chinook special mission helicopter in an upgraded Block 2 configuration, it disclosed on 3 August. With production of the final eight Block 1 MH-47Gs set to be complete by the end of the year, the US Army Aviation Integration Directorate is proposing the resumption of production after this date to deliver an undisclosed number of additional MH-47G helicopters in a Block 2 configuration, according to a solicitation posted on the Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) website. The US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) currently fields 61 remanufactured Block 1 MH-47Gs (62 were delivered – 35 CH-47Ds, nine MH-47Ds and 18 MH-47Es – although one was lost on operations in Afghanistan). The USASOC is to receive the additional eight new-build MH-47Gs by the end of 2015 to offset the fleet’s high operational tempo.
The army is known to be looking at options for replacing some or all of its remanufactured Block 1 MH-47Gs with new-build airframes, and it is this requirement that the solicitation posted on FedBizOpps site likely pertains to. Boeing deferred questions related to the solicitation to the US Army, which did not respond to a request for information by the time of publication.
Derived from the baseline CH-47F heavy-lift Chinook, the MH-47G is a specialist special-mission platform that features double-capacity ‘fat’ fuel tanks, an in-flight aerial refuelling probe, a digital advanced flight control system, and classified sensors and electronic warfare kits specified by SOCOM.
According to the solicitation, rather than build more of the same Block 1 standard helicopters, the army is looking to integrate a Block 2 upgrade into its new MH-47Gs. Speaking to reporters at the company’s Philadelphia plant earlier this year, Boeing officials said that the Block 2 enhancements for both the MH-47G and CH-47F helicopters were still being defined, but that they will likely be based on already existing technologies.
One option being proposed by the company is the Advanced Chinook Rotor Blade (ACRB). Still under development, the ACRB is not a flat blade as currency fitted, but features lots of geometry and a new asymmetric aerofoil to increase the lift by approximately 900 kg per blade (5,400 kg for the helicopter). An interesting design criterion of this blade is that the first 45 cm, where it attaches to the hub, is identical to the old blade for easy retrofit (the ACRB is also made of the same materials as the old blade). Boeing said that the ACRB should be ready for fielding in about 2019, raising the baseline CH-47F helicopter’s current payload from 10,886kg to 16,286kg. The Block 2 upgrade is expected to be fielded by the US Army in the early 2020s, although this will be dependent on the government’s acquisition funding process, and other factors. Once in service, the army’s earlier Block Chinooks will likely be upgraded to the Block 2 conf