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Germany selects Boeing Chinook helicopters to replace Sikorsky fleet

Germany selects Boeing Chinook helicopters to replace Sikorsky fleet

A Chinook helicopter flies over the city center during a military parade marking Greece’s Independence Day, in Athens, Greece, March 25, 2022. REUTERS/Luisa Frady

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BERLIN, June 1 (Reuters) – (This story was corrected on June 1 to read “CH-53” (not “CH-53K”) in paragraph 1)

Germany will buy 60 heavy-lift Chinook helicopters from Boeing (ban) to replace its outdated CH-53 fleet, which puts a decision often deferred against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine.

“With this model, we strengthen our ability to cooperate in Europe,” German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said, without elaborating on the cost of the helicopters, during an address to the lower house of the Bundestag on Wednesday.

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According to previous planning data, the Bundeswehr was to acquire 45 to 60 heavy helicopters for about 4 billion euros ($4.29 billion), to be delivered between 2023 and 2029.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, in a major policy shift for the country after decades of depleting the armed forces, pledged in February to sharply increase defense spending and inject €100 billion into the German military after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

With €100 billion, Scholz aims to return German Army weapons and equipment to a record level after decades of attrition following the end of the Cold War. Read more

According to a draft seen by Reuters and defense sources, the lion’s share of the special funds, about 40 billion euros, will be spent on air capabilities. Read more

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German Defense Chief Eberhard Zorn told reporters that the decisive argument for the Chinook is its global use.

More than 500 Chinooks are used by the US Army and forces in Europe, which means that spare parts are readily available, so the helicopters can be operated for a long time.

Zorn said the CH-53K is only used by the US Marines and Israel.

The decision is a blow to Boeing’s competitor, Lockheed Martin (LMT.N)which also competed for the rankings.

Boeing, with its Chinook rotary brand, and Lockheed’s Sikorsky, with its CH-53K, are the only Western companies to offer this type of military helicopter.

Over recent years, the German military has repeatedly postponed its decision on the purchase of new heavy-lift helicopters.

It relied heavily on the aging CH-53, which has been flying since the 1970s, for its mission in Afghanistan.

The process revealed shortcomings in the old helicopter, with a lot of maintenance work needed to keep it in the air.

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Reporting by Sabine Siebold Writing by Miranda Murray and Thomas Eschert Editing by Madeleine Chambers, Barbara Lewis and Bernadette Baum

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.