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The Defence Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, has announced a contract award for 14 new Chinook helicopters, the RAF’s workhorse on the frontline in Afghanistan. The contract with Boeing to supply the Chinook heavy lift helicopters will bring a significant enhancement to the mobility of frontline forces. Already the largest fleet in Europe, this new contract will bring the UK’s overall number of Chinooks to 60.
This announcement follows the Government’s recent commitment to a one per cent a year real term increase in the MOD’s equipment and support budget from 2015. This new Chinook contract is valued at £1bn or $1.64 billion, including development, manufacture, and the first five years of support to the new Chinooks.
“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. This fleet will support our frontline troops in current and future operations for decades to come,” The Secretary said.
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.
“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,” Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton said.
The RAF will receive the first aircraft for initial trials and testing in 2013 and it will enter service in May 2014 making an immediate contribution to the flexibility of the UK Chinook capability. Delivery will be complete by the end of 2015.
Story and Photo: Royal Air Force