Boeing [BA] recently said it received a $1.64 billion contract from the U.K. Ministry of Defence (MoD) to provide 14 new CH-47 Chinook helicopters and associated support for the first five years to the Royal Air Force (RAF).
This is an especially auspicious move in light of the U.K. defense changes that see a heavy toll on the RAF, sending it to World War I levels, published reports said, and see personnel cuts of some 7,000 airmen and almost 300 aircraft.
The new-build CH-47 Mark (Mk)-6 Chinooks are part of the MoD’s Strategic Helicopter Vision to modernize its helicopter force structure, and will expand the RAF fleet to 60 Chinooks.
“From the Falkland Islands to Iraq and Afghanistan, the RAF has operated Chinooks magnificently for many years in the most demanding environments,” said U.K. Secretary of State for Defence Liam Fox. “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.”
Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton said, “Chinook is an exceptionally capable helicopter that, in the hands of the very skillful RAF crews, has proved itself time and again in many operational theaters across the globe and is the backbone of the Royal Air Force’s helicopter fleet.”
The new aircraft will be produced at Boeing’s recently renovated Ridley Township facility near Philadelphia and are scheduled for delivery from 2013 through 2015.
“The Boeing Company has a long-standing and growing relationship with the United Kingdom, its military and its aerospace industry and we are especially honored by the confidence the RAF has shown in the Chinook,” said Mike Kurth, vice president and managing director, Boeing Defence U.K. Ltd. “We feel a special kinship with the RAF crews because our employees are working shoulder-to-shoulder with them to deliver capability to the frontline.”
The CH-47 Mk-6 Chinook has a new, machined monolithic airframe with U.K.-specific avionics, forward-looking infrared radar, a rescue hoist, aircraft defensive systems, and interoperable communication and navigation equipment. The new helicopters will be compatible with the existing UK Chinook fleet.
“The performance of the Chinook in Afghanistan and Iraq, and in humanitarian efforts around the world, demonstrates its unique ability to meet the diverse mission requirements of the RAF,” said Leanne Caret, Boeing vice president, H-47 Programs. “We are dedicated to continuing to deliver the advanced capabilities that the UK demands.”
The RAF has operated Chinooks for more than 30 years in every major NATO engagement and on virtually every continent. The RAF established innovative procedures to operate its Chinooks in conjunction with other aircraft while performing troop transport, air assault, and medical evacuation missions. The RAF and MOD Defence Equipment and Support have worked closely with Boeing to implement performance-based logistics initiatives to increase the readiness of their Chinook fleet.