US defense giant Boeing is seeking to win more orders from South Korea for its Chinook heavy-lift helicopters amid Seoul's efforts to reinforce readiness against North Korean threats.
The company touted the CH-47ER variant for South Korea's plans to acquire new special operations choppers during a tour of its production facility in Mesa, Arizona to a group of reporters from the defense ministry's press corps last Thursday.
In April, South Korea's defense authorities endorsed a 3.7-trillion won ($2.8 billion) plan to buy heavy choppers from overseas from 2024-2031 to replace aging special operations choppers. It has yet to decide on the model of the helicopter.
Patrick Serfass, Boeing's senior manager of H-47 Chinook Business Development, described the CH-47ER as being ideal for the project, citing its ability to operate in harsh environments and being able to load more than twice as much as fuel as the standard Chinook.
Boeing's Chinook has been mobilized for various global military special operations, most notably the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.
Serfass noted South Korea's separate decision to buy 18 CH-47Fs this year to replace its aging Chinooks, crediting the helicopter model's capabilities in interoperability.
South Korea currently operates over 40 Chinooks, making it the fourth-largest operator of the helicopter globally, according to Boeing.
A Boeing official said the company has conducted case studies on the North Korean military and is developing its Chinooks and Apache attack helicopters based on the needs of the South Korean military.
Company officials also said it has completed building four of six P-8A maritime patrol aircraft ordered by South Korea, with plans to finish the rest next year as they gave a tour of its facilities in Seattle on Nov. 28.
In 2018, South Korea selected the P-8A for the Navy's new maritime patrol aircraft. (Yonhap)