Aerial Warfare

Royal Air Force to Enhance Chinook Fleet with 14 New H-47(ER) Helicopters

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Royal Air Force to Enhance Chinook Fleet with 14 New H-47(ER) Helicopters

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Royal Air Force to Enhance Chinook Fleet with 14 New H-47(ER) Helicopters
Royal Air Force to Enhance Chinook Fleet with 14 New H-47(ER) Helicopters

The UK’s heavy-lift helicopter capability will be bolstered by the purchase by DE&S of 14 extended-range Chinooks H-47(ER), which will pump an estimated £151 million into the economy. The new helicopters will significantly enhance the UK’s strategic mobility with their ability to operate in challenging environments. From the desert to the arctic, the helicopter has double the range of a standard Boeing Chinook and is capable of air-to-air refuelling, with the ability to carry up to 55 personnel or 10,000 kg of cargo. With a top speed of 300kph, they will have new capabilities including an advanced digital cockpit and a modernised airframe to increase stability and survivability. The commitment to proceed with the Foreign Military Sale contract after meeting crew members from the Royal Air Force’s existing Chinook fleet.

Keith Bethell, DE&S Director Helicopters, said: “Our Chinook Delivery Team has worked closely with our US allies and Army customer on this crucial procurement. We now look forward to pushing ahead and delivering this outstanding heavy-lift capability for UK Armed Forces.”

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Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said:“Procuring these Chinook helicopters will mark a significant milestone in our efforts to modernise and enhance the agility of the UK Armed Forces, cementing our ability to respond at pace to situations and threats across the globe.The Chinook is one of our most iconic aircraft, having been operated in every major conflict since the Falklands War. Delivering on this deal not only enhances our capability, but will boost UK industry and skills.”

The Royal Air Force Chinook fleet is the largest outside the United States.
The Royal Air Force Chinook fleet is the largest outside the United States.

Through successful negotiations by DE&S and Army Capability with the US Government, the UK has reduced costs for elements of the programme by more than £300 million, ensuring value for money while providing our armed forces with a cutting-edge capability. As part of the deal, UK companies will also produce components critical for manufacturing and maintaining the helicopters, providing jobs in areas such as aircraft avionics and electric power, supporting skills development and wider UK industry. Beyond the Chinook, the Government’s extensive negotiations with US has helped to enshrine critical reforms into law that will benefit the UK. These laws will increase the speed and predictability of military procurement from the US going forward and will strengthen shared partnerships like AUKUS through technology sharing.

The Royal Air Force operates 57 Chinooks, the oldest of which have been in service for 43 years. The acquisition of new helicopters of this type will enable the retirement of older models, with a projected fleet of 51 CH-47s remaining in Royal Air Force service. The latest Chinook buy is the first phase in the UK’s Chinook Capability Sustainment Program (CSP), which aims to keep the UK Chinook force operational into the 2040s and beyond. The UK purchased its Chinook fleet in batches. The earliest models, equivalent to the CH-47C, date back to the 1980s. Additional aircraft– CH-47D standard–arrived in the 1990s, and the most recent additions that arrived in 2014 are equivalent to CH-47Fs. The 2021 Integrated Review of Foreign Security, Defense, Development and Foreign Policy called for nine early model aircraft to be retired.

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