The Royal Air Force is getting 14 new Chinook, one of the most versatile heavy duty helicopters that have seen service for many years in the most demanding environments from the Falklands to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Ministry of Defense said the £ 1 billion contract will bring the total force of the heavy lift aircraft to 60 - the biggest capability in Europe.
Originally the order was supposed to be for 22 aircraft, when it was first announced by the Labour government in 2009 - but it was reduced as a result of the Strategic Defense and Security Review.
Defense Secretary Liam Fox made the announcement during a visit to RAF Odiham where he was given a tour of existing Chinook helicopters and spoke to crews who have recently returned from Afghanistan.
He said: “The previous Government promised more Chinooks, but never had the money for them and never ordered them. It was just an aspiration.
“From the Falkland Islands to Iraq and Afghanistan, the RAF has operated Chinooks magnificently for many years in the most demanding environments. These additional helicopters will significantly enhance our existing heavy lift helicopter capability, supporting our frontline troops in current and future operations for decades to come.”
The Chinook is an incredibly versatile aircraft capable of transporting up to 40 men or 10 tons of cargo and is providing vital support to frontline forces in Afghanistan.
The new Chinook Mark 6 helicopters will feature a cutting edge digital flight control system making them easier to operate in the most difficult conditions, including the hot and dusty environments such as those encountered in Afghanistan.
The RAF will receive the first aircraft for initial trials and testing in 2013 and it will enter service in May 2014. Three helicopters will be ready for operational deployment in early 2015 and all fourteen will be fully operational by early 2017.
The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, said: “Chinook is an exceptionally capable helicopter that in the hands of the very skilful RAF crews has proved itself time and again in many operational theatres across the globe and is the backbone of the Royal Air Force’s helicopter fleet.
“This procurement will significantly enhance our battlefield helicopter capability and alongside our other Rotary Wing platforms, the additional Chinooks will sustain the RAF’s world renowned support helicopter capability. This procurement will cement the role of the RAF’s highly professional and committed support helicopter aircrew and ground crew at the heart of delivering decisive air power.”
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Shhh ... don't mention the Falklands, someone will whinge about the 'miliarization' of the suth Atlantic.Aug 23rd, 2011 - 05:27 am 0
I didn't think there were any Chinooks left on the Falklands? I understood that the last ones went north in 2006.Aug 23rd, 2011 - 10:08 am 0
Hey Marcos, Think etc. Thought you said we were broke!Aug 23rd, 2011 - 12:07 pm 0
£1 billion, just petty cash.