The Australian Government has given second pass approval to acquire seven CH-47F Chinook helicopters for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) at a cost of A$755m.

Defence Minister Senator John Faulkner said the government had now approved the details of the procurement, announced in last year’s white paper, which would replace the existing fleet of six CH-47D Chinooks.

“These new helicopters will give the ADF a robust, deployable medium-lift helicopter capability to 2040,” he said.

The ADF includes the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force.

Compared with the existing CH-47D, the CH-47F features a strengthened airframe, which reduces its fatigue and improves deployability, and digital systems to support safer flying.

The new CH-47F Chinooks, which will be based at Townsville, will be equipped with ADF-specific equipment to meet certain operational and safety requirements.

“Capability and support issues in the current Chinook helicopters will be addressed with the acquisition of the new aircraft, which will bring safety, supportability and operational benefits to the ADF,” Faulkner said.

The new CH-47F aircraft will be procured and maintained in the same broad configuration as the US Army Chinooks, and will provide the ADF with enhanced benefits in areas including spares, support, training and airworthiness.

The first two CH-47F aircraft will enter service in 2014, with the remaining seven expected to enter service by 2017.