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May 14, 2021

UK places £1.4bn order for 14 Chinooks

The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) yesterday confirmed a £1.4bn order for 14 new Chinooks from Boeing. However, budgetary and modernisation pressures mean delivery of the new aircraft will not complete until 2030.

By Harry Lye

The MOD is purchasing the 14 new extended-range Chinooks via a US Foreign Military Sales agreement, with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2026. Clearing the way for the new airframes, the UK is set to retire an undisclosed number of its oldest Chinook helicopters.

Plans are likely to see the UK’s fleet of Chinook helicopters shrink overall to around 51 aircraft, down from 60.

The new helicopters are set to be based at RAF Odiham, where the UK’s Chinook fleet is based.

Commenting on the order, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “From assisting emergency repairs to UK flood defences, providing vital logistics support during Covid-19 to its warfighting role on Afghan battlefields, the Chinook has been the workhorse of the Armed Forces for over 40 years.

“The cutting-edge H-47 (ER) will be at the forefront of our specialist requirements in dealing with threats and logistic support. Our £1.4-billion investment will mean we will be one of very few air forces with this capability.”

The extended-range Chinook carries double the fuel load of the standard Chinook airframes.

Commander Joint Helicopter Command Air-Vice Marshal Nigel Colman said: “Proven on both UK and overseas operations time and again over the last 40 years, the Chinook continues to be a critical capability for UK Defence; this announcement assures Chinook operations for the decades ahead and is representative of our commitment to modernise capabilities whilst maintaining interoperability with key allies.”

Previous reports stated that the UK had agreed to defer deliveries of the helicopter as a result of financial pressures caused by the ongoing effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Investment in the new helicopters was originally detailed in the UK’s recently published Defence Command Paper that also confirmed plans to retire the older helicopters.

The UK Armed Forces see the newer extended range Chinook as a more integrated and capable system than older airframes that is easier to service and maintain.

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