The uncertainty surrounding the final costs and delivery schedule of the UK’s planned fleet of 14 new Chinook CH-47ER heavy-lift helicopters is set to persist, with the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) staying tight-lipped over any fiscal or timeline analysis is has undertaken on the programme.

However, according to a 20 October written parliamentary response by James Cartlidge, UK Minister for Defence Procurement, the MoD “acknowledges(s) and are working to resolve H47(ER) cost growth”, an indication that the £1.4bn ($1.7bn) originally committed to acquire the 14 airframes will be exceeded.

Cartlidge adds that the updated programme costs and schedule, including spiral development, “will be considered by the Ministry of Defence Investment Approvals Committee upon conclusion of this work”, declining to provide any initial figures regarding cost growth currently held by the MoD.

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, with 2028 considered as possible for first deliveries.

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In a written parliamentary answer on 25 May, Cartlidge 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”.

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.