The U.S. Army’s objections to Block II upgrades of the Chinook helicopter seem to be softening. On Wednesday of this week, Army Chief of Staff James McConville told the House defense appropriations subcommittee that his service needs the additional lift provided by the upgrades, and is mindful of the industrial base impacts if the upgrades do not go forward. The industrial fallout really would be significant, potentially shutting the main production line at the biggest industrial complex in southeastern Pennsylvania and destroying thousands of skilled jobs across a vast supply chain. But even without the economic consequences, the case for Block II upgrades is compelling, because Chinook is likely to remain in the force for 40 more years and it needs a plan for keeping it relevant. Without Block II, the helicopter won’t be able to lift the Army’s Joint Light Tactical Vehicle or its light howitzer. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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