The U.S. Army received its first newly upgraded Chinook helicopter this week, according to aerospace giant Boeing.
The new CH-47F Chinook helicopter was delivered to Army officials on Tuesday (July 29) in Ridley, Pennsylvania.
The updated CH-47F features several improvements over earlier models of the heavy-lift transport helicopter. One of the features, the cargo-on-off-loading system, allows soldiers to reconfigure the floor of the aircraft for cargo delivery missions. [7 Technologies That Transformed Warfare]
CH-47Fs are designed primarily for cargo missions and are typically used to move troops, artillery, ammunition, fuel and supplies, according to Boeing. But the military helicopters are also used for secondary missions, including medical evacuations, disaster relief, search and rescue, and fire fighting.
The Army's newest Chinook features a system designed to assess the health of the aircraft in real time. The system will reduce the need for frequent repairs and will decrease the overall cost of maintaining the aircraft, according to Boeing.
The Army awarded Boeing a $4 billion multiyear contract in June 2013 to construct 155 CH-47Fs, as well as 60 additional aircraft. Delivery of the first CH-47F was expected to occur in late August, but the new helicopterwas ready a full month ahead of schedule.
This week's celebration of the Army's new CH-47F came almost exactly one month after the 15th and final Chinook helicopter was delivered to the Royal Canadian Air Force.
The Canadian versions of the helicopter are medium- to heavy-lift vehicles. The helicopter's suite of advanced instruments includes a directional infrared countermeasures system to protect the aircraft from sophisticated infrared-guided missiles.
Canada is among 18 countries around the world with Chinook helicopters in its fleet. Earlier in July, the British Royal Air Force also unveiled the first of its 14 upgraded Chinook helicopters, the Chinook Mark 6, which was ordered from Boeing in 2011.
The CH-47 Chinook helicopters were first introduced in 1962, and were used by U.S. forces during the Vietnam War. Since then, 1,179 of these aircraft have been built. The "model F" CH-47 helicopters delivered to the U.S. Army this week first became operational in 2007.
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Elizabeth is a former Live Science associate editor and current director of audience development at the Chamber of Commerce. She graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from George Washington University. Elizabeth has traveled throughout the Americas, studying political systems and indigenous cultures and teaching English to students of all ages.