More than two years after the UK was revealed to be intent on the acquisition of 14 new Chinook CH-47ER heavy-lift helicopters, their entry into service is still unknown pending the outcome of a review being conducted by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Revealed in April 2021, the UK’s acquisition of 14 CH-47ERs would come at a price tag of around £1.4bn or approximately £100m per airframe.
The UK reportedly agreed to defer the delivery of the helicopters due to financial concerns resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, with a three-year delay approved in order to meet future British Army capability requirements.
According to plans outlined in the 2021 Defence Command Paper the UK will retire its oldest Chinook helicopters to invest in new longer-range CH-47s.
An MoD spokesperson at the time said that while a delivery schedule had yet to be determined, it was expected that it would be completed before the end of 2030.
In a written parliamentary answer on 25 May, James Cartlidge, Minister for Defence Procurement at the MoD, stated that the UK “remained committed” to the acquisition of 14 new CH-47ER platforms, but that the delivery schedule was “currently subject to review to ensure defence requirements were best met”.
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The outcome of the review is due to be presented in a Review Note to the Investment Approvals Committee in late 2023, Cartlidge added.
When contacted, an MoD spokesperson told Army Technology the delivery schedule was subject to review and that “it would be inappropriate to pre-empt” the outcome.
“We remain committed to procuring 14 new Chinook H-47 Extended Range airframes through the Chinook capability sustainment programme,” the spokesperson said.
Under plans outlined in the earlier Defence Command Paper, the MoD was set to retire the nine oldest airframes, replacing them with the new extended range aircraft. According to official UK figures, as of December 2022 the country’s military operated 59 Chinooks across the fleet.