Army Aviation: Awaiting purchases and upgrades

Stavros Ioannidis writes, source: “Political” newspaper

Helicopters – Complete facelift on Chinook and Apache. 10 new engines are coming for the Air Force’s “Indians”.

The leadership of the Ministry of National Defense intends to strengthen one of the most critical means of the Armed Forces, which, in parallel with the Apache modernization program, will “run” the maintenance and purchase of new Chinook helicopters.

The “multitools” of the Army Air Forces work tirelessly undertaking a multitude of missions in peacetime, while they must be constantly ready to “fight” when and where required. The 25 Chinooks at the disposal of the DP put out fires, transport patients from the islands to the mainland and are charged with the critical task of transporting personnel and materials, while they are often used to move the political and military leadership to every corner of Greece, from Kastelorizo and the Evros to Othonou and Gavdos. In other words, these are valuable aerial assets and largely irreplaceable.

It is indicative that the older Chinooks available to the Armed Forces are approaching 45,000 flight hours, since every year they undertake hundreds of missions offering social work or within the operational activities of the 4th TEAS.

By 2023, the “Indians” of the Air Force will get a significant breather, as ten new engines are expected to arrive, which will be installed in the nine older Chinook CH-47DGs, which were acquired in 1981. These helicopters were grounded, as the T-55-L-712 engines are no longer supported with spare parts and so I initiated a long process to purchase new ones from the United States. After many delays, the engine replacement program got under way in 2020 and the Army General Staff expects that availability will gradually return to satisfactory levels.

At the same time, the problem of “overloading” the newer Chinooks with disproportionately long flight hours will be addressed, in order to meet the suffocating needs of the Armed Forces and the State. In many cases, in fact, it is found that the Maximum Number of Flight Hours is exceeded, with the technical staff of the Army Aviation struggling every day to keep the helicopters in the air.

Awaiting purchases

At the same time, the Greek side is awaiting the response of the Americans for the purchase of ten new CH-47F Chinooks through the FMS (Foreign Military Sales) process. In fact, an effort is being made to integrate the Greek order into the corresponding one of the American Army, so that the helicopters can be received as soon as possible. After all, both the government and the Ministry of National Defense are fully aware of how important it is to acquire air transport, since, in the event of an escalation with aggressive and revisionist Turkey, helicopters will be called upon to transport troops and Special Forces to the battlefield .

The GES wants to strengthen the attack helicopters as well, and the modernization of nine Apache AH-64Ds to the E version and the simultaneous acquisition of nine more Apache AH-64E Guardians are already being considered. In order for the program to proceed, it is necessary to send an official request from the Greek side, so that the contract can be signed within 2023. In this case, approximately 36 months will be required for the delivery of the new helicopters and thus, by the summer of 2027, the The 2nd TEEP will have 18 Apache AH-64Es and the 1st TEEP will operate with 19 Apache AH-64As that will undergo a program to upgrade their electro-optics.

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