So far, the CH-53K and CH-47 are seen as potential contenders. However, only the MH-47G has an inflight refueling capability
Col Bernhard Martin, a senior Luftwaffe (German Air Force) officer, told Flight Global at Defence IQ International Military Helicopter conference in London on Jan. 31 that the next heavy-lift helicopter for the service needs to be inflight refueling capable.
Martin says a winner for the tender will be selected in 2020 and first delivery to be scheduled in 2023.
In the long term, in-flight refuelling will be performed using the Airbus A400M, but Germany has recently indicated that it intends to also acquire three Lockheed Martin KC-130J tankers, as part of a shared fleet with France.
Martin says the German air force’s current CH-53 inventory “will reach the end of its life by about 2025”.
Noteworthy the CH-53K will make its international debut at the Berlin air show next April.
Two Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters were brought to a conference in Germany in July, 2017 but the Lockheed aircraft, just entering production for the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), was not on site.
German military officials would now study the capabilities of the two helicopter models, comparing their effectiveness in different scenarios, the source said. According to Reuters some officials favour the CH-47 which they say is combat-proven and cheaper, but others say the larger CH-53K would allow growth in future missions.
The USMC has said the average cost of the huge aircraft will be around $88 million per aircraft, but its cost could drop if Germany, Israel and Japan all bought them.
Photo credit: Petty Officer 2nd Class Jesse Awalt / U.S. Navy and Boeing