STOCKTON, Calif. -- The recent delivery of 10 new CH-47F Chinook helicopters to the California Army National Guard brought a significant upgrade from that airframe's aging predecessor, the CH-47D, one that should mean a higher operational readiness rate and a higher level of situational awareness.
Equipped with the Common Avionics Architecture Structure (CAAS), the CH-47F has an array of sensor and data technologies, making this a Chinook for the digital age.
"It practically flies itself," a crew member said. "In 15 years they will probably be fully autonomous."
Initially developed for the Special Operations Aviation MH-47G Chinook and MH-60L/M Black Hawk aircraft, the CAAS cockpit technology aboard the CH-47F is an open, nonproprietary system that uses commercial standards, helping to minimize the costs of the technology as well as upgrades.
The CAAS system incorporates cockpit flight and mission management as well as communications, navigation, weapons and mission sensor subsystems.
The CH-47F features the AN/ARC-231 Airborne Communication System from
Raytheon, which includes two UHF/VHF AM/FM radios. Older Chinooks were equipped with AN/ARC-164 (UHF-AM) and AN/ARC-186 (VHF-AM/FM) radios. The CH-47F is also equipped with two AN/ARC-201 SINCGARS radios, one AN/ARC-220 high frequency radio, and one L-Band BFT transceiver. Other CH-47F equipment includes the AN/APX-123(V) Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) transponder.
The unit cost of a CH-47F is $37.94 million, according to the US Department of Defense.The airframe costs $24.08 million, the two T55-GA-714A engines cost $2.32 million -- $1.16 million each -- and the avionics package costs $1.51 million.