The UK is close to closing a purchase of 14 new extended-range CH-47 Chinooks from Boeing in a deal worth around £1.4bn.

The UK has reportedly agreed to defer the delivery of the helicopters due to financial concerns resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. However, Army Technology understands that the delivery profile results from a need to balance modernisation priorities.

In the recently published Defence Command Paper, the UK outlined plans to retire its oldest Chinook helicopters and invest in new longer-range CH-47s.

A Ministry of Defence (MOD) spokesperson told Army Technology: “Work is at an advanced stage to commence the procurement of a number of new Chinook helicopters to replace older airframes in the fleet.”

“The delivery schedule and exact costs for the new Chinook helicopters are to be confirmed, but it is expected delivery will be completed before the end of 2030.”

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

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A letter from the UK’s embassy in Washington obtained by Bloomberg confirmed the plans to acquire the 14 new helicopters reading that it served as an “acknowledgement that the UKG wishes to extend its Chinook Vertical Heavy Lift capability by proceeding with the acquisition of quantity fourteen (14) new build Chinook H-47(ER) helicopters,”

The letter went on to say that the UK needed to ‘reconsider the expenditure profile’ of the plans as a result of Covid-19.

Under plans outlined in the Defence Command Paper, the MOD is retiring the nine oldest airframes and replacing them with the new extended range aircraft. The UK operated a fleet of 60 Chinook helicopters.

Commenting on the deal, a Boeing spokesperson told Army Technology: “Boeing has always had a strong relationship with the Royal Air Force, and we look forward to building on that partnership as the H-47 Chinook Extended Range procurement process continues.”