“We have been flying with the same torque split since the Chinook was designed,” says Marion. “In Block 2 we will measure torque precisely at the rotor head.” APAS would use the sensors to provide tactile feedback on torque margin to the pilots via “soft stops” on the flight controls. The system is planned to be retrofittable by removing the existing force-feel pallet and installing the APAS.
Another potential change is incorporation of the redesigned electrical system developed for the CH-147F, a hybrid between the CH-47F and MH-47G now in flight-testing. The new system has increased capacity—three 60 kVA generators—to power additional survivability equipment and provide addition growth capability. “We always want more, and cleaner power,” says Hoecherl.
By beginning work on Block 2 now, the Army is hoping to keep the Chinook line rolling beyond the end of the second multiyear contract. Current planning is for the last CH-47D to be modernized to an F in 2019, and the first aircraft to be inducted for Block 2 remanufacturing in 2019-20, budget permitting.
The second multiyear contract, meanwhile, will provide the Army with some flexibility to manage budget cuts. The base contract is for 121 remanufactured and 34 new-build CH-47Fs for the Army plus options for 60 aircraft, principally for foreign military sales (FMS). Deliveries are to begin in April 2015, but bridging a gap between the first and second multi-years is a contract for 14 helicopters, the first to be built in Multiyear 2 configuration, to avoid a break in production.
Only one of the Chinooks under the bridge contract is for the Army—a “production-representative Multi-Year 2 aircraft”—and will be used to reduce risk, says Marion. Configuration changes from the first to the second multiyear award center on incorporating on the assembly line approximately 30 modifications now performed post-production. These include installing the roller-floor cargo on/off loading system, an health-monitoring system and some rewiring to tackle avionics obsolescence.
Because any FMS aircraft built under the second multiyear contract will be in the same configuration as those for the U.S., the Army has the contractual flexibility, if there are further budget cuts, to move FMS helicopters into the base 155-aircraft program and still achieve the targeted cost savings, Marion says. Of the 60 option aircraft, 16 “are already spoken for by FMS customers,” including Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, says Lt. Col. Reese Hauenstein, CH-47F product manager.