The Boeing helicopter plant in Ridley Township, PA is one of the last vestiges of heavy industry in the lower Delaware Valley. But it could suffer a devastating blow if the Army goes forward with a proposal to delay production of the Block II version of the Chinook helicopter. Chinook is the Army’s heavy-lift rotorcraft, but it has lost so much payload capacity as new equipment was added that in its current configuration, it will not be able to transport the service’s next-generation jeep. A Block II upgrade would fix that problem while increasing pilot awareness and lowering sustainment costs. The company thought everything was on track with the transition to Block II until April of this year, when it began to hear the upgrade was being sacrificed in near-term budgets to other priorities. If the Army stays on that vector, hundreds of jobs will disappear in Pennsylvania, along with hundreds more in a supply chain stretching from Illinois to Florida. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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