Military helicopters are being bought with American taxpayer money, and the Pentagon’s chief acquisition officer says the military is buying the most sophisticated military equipment on the market.
The Army purchased a Lockheed Martin CH-47 Chinook helicopter for $2.7 billion last year, and two Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets for $4.3 billion last month.
The Navy is also buying more than $300 million worth of new fighter jets.
The Pentagon’s Chief Acquisition Officer, General Joseph Votel, said on a conference call Thursday that he is “confident” the US military will have more than 100 Chinook helicopters in the inventory by the end of the decade.
Votel said the CH-97A Cobra is a “very good helicopter” but it is the most advanced military helicopter in the world, and it’s “not the most expensive” for what it’s worth.
He said the Cobra is “a much better platform for [countering] air threats” than the CH2.5.
Votels claim that the Cobra’s maneuverability and survivability make it “a very good choice” for air combat.
“It is the best helicopter in its class,” Votesl said.
“The Chinook has proven itself over the last decade, and I’m confident that we’ll continue to see it in use,” he said.
“The Chinooks are extremely maneuverable, they’re incredibly maneuverable.”
Votels statement is backed by a Pentagon official, who told Recode that the helicopters are the most powerful military helicopters in existence.
The official said the helicopters cost about $4 billion apiece, and Voters statement is “the first time we’ve heard that amount of money specifically for military helicopters.”
Vota said the $2 billion is for buying the helicopters, not for the military itself.
“We have the capability, the equipment and the capability,” Vota said.
He added that he has spoken to several people in the military and defense industry and has seen that the CHP-47 and the CHF-12 are “very, very good” military helicopters.
Vota added that the US Department of Defense is “buying military helicopters at a much lower price point than the Pentagon typically spends on the kinds of systems that we’re buying.”
He said this is because of the “significant investment in procurement in the last two years.”
“So we’re able to procure them at a cost of about $1,200 per aircraft,” he explained.
“So we can get an aircraft at a price that is very, very affordable for the taxpayer.”
A senior defense official said that the cost of the CHC-47 is less than half that of the Chinook, and said that it’s more powerful and capable than the older F-15E Strike Eagle, F-22 Raptor, and F-35 Lightning II.
The official added that it is not yet clear whether the CH47 will have enough room to carry up to 30 people, but it’s not clear how long the aircraft will be able to carry that many people.
“If we can add that much additional weight, that much extra capability to that helicopter, we think we can make it a very good helicopter,” the official said.
A Pentagon spokesperson said the Pentagon is not commenting on the procurement.