The US State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sale of sixteen H-47 Chinook (Extended Range) helicopters to the UK for $3.5 billion. 

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today, the notice read:

“The Government of United Kingdom has requested a possible sale of sixteen (16) H-47 Chinook (Extended Range) helicopters; thirty-six (36) T-55-GA-714A engines (32 installed, 4 spares); forty-eight (48) embedded GPS inertial navigation units (32 installed, 16 spares); twenty (20) common missile warning systems (16 installed, 4 spares); twenty-two (22) radio-frequency countermeasures (16 installed, 6 spares); nineteen (19) multi-mode radars (16 installed, 3 spares); nineteen (19) electro-optical sensor systems (16 installed, 3 spares); forty (40) M-134D-T mini­ guns, plus mounts and tools (32 installed, 8 spares); and forty (40) M240H machine guns, plus mounts and tools (32 installed, 8 spares).”

The notice also states that the sale includes communications equipment; navigation equipment; aircraft survivability equipment; initial training equipment and services; synthetic training equipment; support package including spares and repair parts; special tools and test equipment; aviation ground support equipment; safety and air worthiness certification; technical support; maintenance support; technical and aircrew publications; mission planning system equipment and support; and, project management and governance; U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics support services; and other related elements of support.

The notice also states:

“The United Kingdom is a close NATO ally and an important partner on critical foreign policy and defense issues.  The proposed sale will enhance U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives by enhancing the United Kingdom’s capabilities to provide national defense and contribute to NATO and coalition operations.

The proposed sale will improve the United Kingdom’s ability to meet current and future threats by providing a heavy lift rotary wing capability able to execute missions in extreme environments across a full range of military operations.  The United Kingdom will have no difficulty absorbing these helicopters into its armed forces.”

This order is likely to replace aging aircraft in the UK fleet rather than an expansion of the fleet, we’re awaiting comment from the MoD and this article will be updated soon.


  1. Confirms that the future of both Army and Commando lift is Chinook, and there may be no direct replacement for Puma.

    Given the cavernous nature of the Queen Elizabeth Class in the LPH role it makes sense to standardise on the longest range and the heaviest lift capability. Especially if the 105mm Light Gun does get replaced by the 155mm M777.

    Nagging thought that the Royal Navy may also need the newly navalised Merlin HC4 to top up numbers of the badly overstretched HM2 fleet in the ASW and AEW roles.

  2. $3.5 bn? Steep isn’t it? Would be interesting to see what they are replacing (old Chinooks, 1 for 1?), Puma’s, or wx0ansion of the Chinook fleet….

    • The article seems to imply that the Chinook fleet will not increase. Instead these will be replacements that have increased range, not a bad thing.

  3. Peter, I agree. With the QE class (and their vast flight decks) finally becoming a living breathing capability, the additional 16 Chinooks will be a definite boost.

    One would assume the writing is on the wall for the Puma, hand in hand with this additional Chinook buy.

    The Navy could certainly use the Mk 4 Merlin more widely, perhaps adding the AEW equipment at some point too.

    So this will take our Chinook fleet up to 76 if it goes ahead, an impressive fleet by any measure.

    • I do actually hope we go up to 76, rather than these airframes being replacements as implied in the article. The acquiring of additional airframes has been previously considered; a while ago, a purchase of 24 airframes was considered, but this was dropped to 14. It would be nice to see those ‘dropped’ options taken up again, with additional numbers.

      When it comes to rotary airframes, I have argued before that numbers are everything. Recent conflicts involving the UK have highlighted this (Northern Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan, Falklands), and if anything, we should be expanding our numbers – not cutting them to the bare bones.

      Anyone up for bringing the 12 Mark 1 Merlin and 3 HM3 Merlin airframes out of storage?

      • Morning Lusty.

        I was led to believe by someone on here the remaining HM1 Merlins are all cannibalised?

        Shame if so as I would have hoped they would be used by 849 for Crowsnest.

        • Afternoon, Daniele.

          Yes, multiple trusted defence commentators have mentioned that they have been somewhat used as ‘Christmas Trees’. I believe the plan was for at least 8 of the Mark 1’s to be used as a direct Crowsnest replacement, something which the Navy pushed for. Obviously, the plans have changed for the ‘pit stop’ option. Maybe they can again be brought into service given the rising threat, and a Defence Secretary who appears to be doing a good job?

          The HC4 upgrade that they’re terming as ‘brand new!’ (implying new airframes) isn’t far from the truth. The £388m upgrade project has seen the following:

          “97% of the aircraft wiring is taken out, the rear fuselage is replaced and a new instrument panel is fitted. The cockpit, engine rating and gearbox rating are also standardised.” (ForcesTV)

          And of course, they have lost that rather cute nose. But if we can do all that to relatively new helicopters, I’m pretty sure we can find the time to upgrade our cannibalised airframes – assets we have paid for, which are needed, and are doing nothing!

  4. Wiki has the combat radius of the Ch47F as 200 miles. Can’t find anything about what ‘extended range’ would mean compared to that. Closest is an RAF actively stating the the HC3 version has ‘fat tanks’ with ‘double the fuel’. From what little I’ve read about carrier operations, I guess the range is actually quite important in increasing the targeting problem for an adversary looking to hit the carrier so more range would presumably make QEC in the LHD role more viable. I hope someone, somewhere is throwing a few quid at developing folding rotor blades. With all that, QEC as LHD might not be quite the uncomfortable and risky compromise that it at first seemed?..

  5. Oh. Did not see this coming?

    Previously the additional 22 ordered ( reduced to 14, as part of the Harrier / Cottesmore fiasco ) did not result in any additional front line squadron despite the uplift in numbers.

    The RAF just reformed 28 (R) Sqn as a joint Puma Chinook OCU which previously flew Merlins, which at least enabled the front line units to remove the training flight.

    Could this mean a major uplift? Unlikely, but welcome.

    Could this mean retirement of older cabs? Possibly.

    Or could this mean removal of 24 Puma in 2 Squadrons, add these new additions to the existing Chinooks, and MoD say it an increase in the usual spin? Removing Benson from the RAF at the same time and giving it to the army and closing either Middle Wallop or Wattisham at the same time. Big cuts, spun as an improvement.

    Crewing them as always remains a major issue if these are additional?

    • Hi Danielle. I’m always amazed at your knowledge of all the units and bars but wouldn’t achieving the same amount of lift with fewer airframes and from a smaller estate be more efficient? Allowing release of personnel, fewer commands and use of spare basing?

      • Morning Anthony.

        Yes…but its always the bloody same isn’t it. Efficiency, reductions. We need more numbers!

        I cannot do wonders for recruitment either if all people ever see in the military is the local base closing until there are large areas of the nation with no military footprint of any note.

        The Mod announced 91 closures in the last few years. Added to the hundreds over the previous few decades. Wallop and Wattisham are hanging by a thread already.

        With the MoD, and wider HMG when it comes to defence, I always smell the rat. Always. Sad. But true. Because I know what assets we had before and how easy it is for HMG and the public to forget that.

        The T23 being a case in point. 13 is now seen as a benchmark. The new low is always the aspiration. Rubbish. We had 16. And even that was down from the 20 odd planned.

        It is all spin.

    • A well earned retirement of ‘Bravo November’ to the RAF museum (not Hendon – dark awful hole in comparison to Cosford) would be welcome!

        • Yes ZA718 Bravo November one of the original HC.1 ordered in 1978 and delivered in 1982 is still very much kicking about!

          She is currently an HC.4 variant which means she has had the recent ‘Project Julius’ upgrade.

          To be honest Bravo November has been remanufactured so many times there is little left of the original airframe. Nevertheless she is very worthy of preservation, I believe she is earmarked for the RAF museum when eventually retired.

          Helicopters can last in service this long because the main fatigue items are the engines, transmission and rotor blades all of which can be replaced.

  6. (Chris H) – New kit is always welcome even if it is replacement for life served assets. I never decry defence expenditure. However (sorry!) it is HOW we use that expenditure that should be questioned. Forgive my replaying old arguments but we already have 60 Chinooks, the largest fleet bar the USA, so we are not short of heavy unit load vertical lift. But we are short of medium vertical lift capability. Others have pointed out the 7 Te all up Puma is now due for retirement and my solution would be to replace (some of) them with Leonardo AW609 aircraft for use mainly as high altitude AEW platforms, personnel and freight transports for the carriers but also with other RN Amphibious fleets. It is the Merlin fleets that now need supporting with more airframes. If we use AW609s for AEW that frees up some Merlins for other uses with the FAA

    While the Chinook is a 22 Te all up aircraft and can lift heavy indivisible unit loads two 15 Te all up Merlins can lift more people and more freight than one Chinook. Need I replay the ‘Cost’ vs ‘Price’ argument of spending UK taxpayer money here rather than buying foreign?

    And forgive me mentioning it again but better we spend our money here with UK based manufacturing companies than yet more with US Incorporated as personified by Boeing who are no friends of UK manufacturing given their actions against Airbus (for whom we make all the wings) and Bombardier (again for whom we make wings). How much does Boeing spend here?

    That $3.5 Bn would buy the 4 (?) AW609s we need and an awful lot of Merlins.

      • (Chris H) Fedaykin – I ‘bring it up’ because I am free so to do on here, its my choice and I am allowed an opinion even if you don’t think I have that right…. Still moving swiftly on…

        From what I can see (and I am as always open to correction) the only options for a non CATOBAR carrier AEW aircraft are:
        Merlin / Crowsnest
        Osprey / whatever
        AW609 / Crowsnest.

        We are short of Merlins, the Osprey is expensive, high maintenance and even the Yanks are looking to replace it on carriers so that leaves the AW609 option. An aircraft that has a 25,000 Ft altitude capability (10,000 Ft above Merlin and 19,000 ft above an Osprey) and is therefore an exceptionally good platform for AEW. It is big enough for the AEW kit and the two operators and is far faster than a Merlin to get on station or respond in emergencies. And it is small enough to be stowed in a carrier hangar

        The AW609 also has the benefit of being an Agusta Westland product that would be built here in the UK by a company already adept at modifying Merlins for Crowsnest and Marine use by the Royal Navy.

        THOSE are the reasons I will keep ‘bringing it up’. Shame you chose the personal angle rather than engage in a detailed and informed discussion …

        • Chris Sir, It’s good to see you continuing your Work on here, I can’t understand much of the Negative and Quarrelsome comments on this site but You always keep your Cool. As for the Chinooks, I’m guessing It’s all part of the Plan to Fill Parking Spaces on our Brilliant new Carriers and enable them to be Flown off from greater Distances now that HMS Ocean Is Gone.

          • (Chris H) Captain P Wash – Well one does try. Although some may think I am very trying …

            Onwards …

          • It’s because he writes deluded rubbish. He believes that anything with the smallest UK connection is automatically better than anything else despite all evidence to the contrary.

            There aren’t “3 options for Crowsnest”. There’s one that has been bought and paid for. WTF should the MoD pay for it all over again?

            The AW609 hasn’t been flight certified yet, is only being sold as a commercial aircraft, is too small being Wildcat sized, and would be built in Italy. Quite possibly the worst choice the RN could make.

            And the “Yanks” are not removing Ospreys from their carriers. The USN has just signed a big contract for Ospreys to perform COD & long range SAR.

            And Boeing reported Canadian Bombadier for selling aircraft under cost in order to gain market share in the US. That’s illegal. Just like the UK complained when China sold steel in the UK under cost in order to gain market share. No difference.

          • What Ron5 said!

            AW609 is not and has never been an option. It is highly doubtful that you could cram Cerberus into it anyway!

          • (Chris H) Ron5 / Fedaykin – I write ‘deluded rubbish’? Well you agree with some of it so that makes you deluded as well? However I never plant names on people, group them into something that suits a confirmation bias let alone categorise their comments as you do. I may disagree and say so. But personal abuse loses the argument. You two just qualified – Well done …

            For your information this forum is all about commenting on what is published and then adding to discussion topics as they arise. It is therefore an ‘opinion piece’ as much as an ‘information piece’. Opinions to which people are fully entitled. You two seem to feel entitled to rubbish, denigrate and abuse people because they hold an opinion with which you disagree. You even tell people to stop commenting on matters. How very superior. An attitude that speaks volumes about the sort of people you are.

          • “I write ‘deluded rubbish’? ” –

            Yes quite regularly, on some rare occasions you come up with something sensible. As I said before a broken clock is correct twice a day…

            Your are entitled to your opinions, nevertheless I am not going to feel any remorse pointing out that which is nonsense.

            I have never asked you to stop commenting on matters, I actually rather enjoy pulling your delusional nonsense to pieces .

            If you can’t handle that the internet really isn’t the place for you!

          • (Chris H) Fedaykin – Try all you might I will not lower myself to your level of non-debate and personality based subjectivity as so well exemplified here. So peddle your self righteous abuse all you like I am not biting. Indeed ignoring it and replying with facts is the best response. The trouble seems to be that unless said facts fall into your pre-conceived agenda (like you being a Remoaner) you lash out at the person not debate the issue. But jog on …

            Oh and I have no fear of the t’internet Old Son. The difference between you and me is I do not abuse others on it for simply holding a different opinion. I try to engage with them and discuss differences, opinions and options. And guess what Sweetcheeks? You are just words on a screen that disappear in but a short while. Trust me I have faced worse…

          • I am not abusing you Chris H and I am not playing some kind of game, when you post nonsense I will respond. On the odd occasion that you type something sensible I will be happy to complement you.

            Small tip if you are trying to take the Moral High Ground may I suggest childish insults like ‘Remoaner’ or ‘Sweetcheeks’ are not a good starting point.

            For someone who is SO above it all you are getting rather angry, I can hear your thumping of the keypad from Scotland.

          • Crowsnest surely wouldn’t even fit inside the AW609, it’s cabin is only 4ft 8in in height, 4ft 10in wide and only 13ft 5in.

          • Shhh, if Chris H says it will fit then it will by Jingo! Don’t worry about physics, geometry, budget, the Military Aviation Authority and basic safety…

            Albeit I would be curious to see the faces on the Leonardo engineers when asked to pack in the consoles, radar and mission systems weighing nearly a ton into the AW609 along with crew and enough fuel to allow a worthwhile time on station (or get off the actual deck)!

          • (Chris H) Fedaykin – Your excessive self regard so colours your attitude that you obviously can’t understand that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit and your continued abuse is getting rather boring.

            Oh and here we go again with the ‘Military Aviation Authority and basic safety…” – Again you make an assertion, an opinion, with no proof whatsoever. If I am not allowed opinions why are you?

            But lets address some of your other issues raised before and now:

            “This multi-role aircraft can be configured for [ …] Defense and National Security applications like Homeland Security, Naval, Utility, and Personnel Recovery (SAR)”

            So much for your dismissal of the aircraft for military use and especially on a carrier in your other posts.

            “Weight: MTOW 8 tonne class 18,000 lb class
            Useful load up to 2,860 kg up to 6,300 lb”

            You: “when asked to pack in the consoles, radar and mission systems weighing nearly a ton”

            Sea King HAS5 helicopters (similar to an AEW2 specification) have a nett payload of some 3,100 Kgs. An AEW2 was fitted with Thorn EMI Searchwater radar in an inflatable radome but with sonar kit removed. So apparently they could lift the earlier AEW version which no doubt went under a weight saving exercise before becoming Crowsnest in a Merlin

            “Capacity: Crew / Passengers 2/9”

            AEW2s normally flew with a four person (pilot, co-pilot and two observers) crew compared with the four-person crew for ASW Sea Kings. Merlins are similar so there is no ‘crew’ issue

            “Maximum range – 1,389 km or 700 nm
            *with aux fuel tanks – 1,852 km or 1000 nm

            Merlin HM1 range: 833 km or 450 nm. So much for your dismissal of range / time on station – AW609 has 35% longer range on standard fuel tanks and 110% more with auxiliary tanks

            AW609 data from:


            So once again Mr fedaykin all you provide is ‘really clever’ sarcasm and dismissive abuse while adding the square root of sod all to the discussion. I have addressed every one of your inane comments. Now maybe respond with a factual comment. But I won’t hold my breath.

          • “Oh and here we go again with the ‘Military Aviation Authority and basic safety…” – Again you make an assertion, an opinion, with no proof whatsoever. If I am not allowed opinions why are you?” –

            I mention the Military Aviation Authority and basic safety as that is where it all starts and ends when it comes to adding any aviation based capability into UK service, it is not an option it is a fact.

            Have a read through this lot, it will help you make better informed contributions in the future:


            “This multi-role aircraft can be configured for [ …] Defense and National Security applications like Homeland Security, Naval, Utility, and Personnel Recovery (SAR)” –

            You have heard of Sales brochures haven’t you? That is frankly a meaningless list of what ifs…

            “Capacity: Crew / Passengers 2/9” –

            Yes, and?

            Two crew and nine passengers in a civilian configured cabin with comfy seats. Now try and fit all the mission systems and consoles, take account of electrical generation and cooling needs then fit it into a cabin that is half the length, width and height of the Merlin. Also find a place to put the radar without seriously affecting the aerodynamics and beef up the structure to stop it falling off. How will it affect the CofG? What is the fuel burn? Not forgetting that the type will also need to be redesigned to work in the ship environment adding even more weight. The AW609 is not even certified yet for civilian use and you want them to magic it into an AEW&C type. So yes lets talk about range and payload!

            I’m being sarcastic because you clearly have dreamt up an idea without really thinking about it then got all huffy when the flaws are pointed out as you invariably usually do then followed by hypocritical cries of unfair treatment and not lowering yourself to the level of us plebs.

            You have not posted any factual comments just a lot of waffle followed by links to Wikipedia and the Leonardo brochure page for the AW609. That you think the MAA and Safety cases are somehow optional if they are inconvenient to your musings just you up as a duffer.

            The idea is a silly pipe dream, let it go.

  7. This seems silly when we could instead buy perhaps half as many ospreys, which are far more versatile, and would be able to refuel the existing chinooks if they were given probes, thereby extending their range, even if they were deemed unsuitable for conducting certain missions themselves.

  8. Maybe these are for 7 Sqn of JSFAW.

    DSF use. Longer ranged. AAR possibly?

    657 AAC was disbanded when AH9A Lynx went, and UKSF lost a dedicated squadron.

    I would imagine that Director Special Forces has considerable clout and the ear of the grown ups.

    Cameron also announced a 2 billion uplift in SF funding. Which as usual is all very convenient as being all classified one cannot judge where the money goes of if it is spent efficiently.

    Maybe this proposed purchase is a part of all that?

    • Could well be.

      I’m not too sure on the standard ‘fit’ of a Chinook, but these appear to be coming with alot of extra goodies.

      16 also appears to be a nice number for SF. I think if we were seeing direct replacements for old Chinook airframes, we’d be seeing more numbers. Yet my fear is that this batch of 16 would be a replacement for Puma (the original order of which was 48).

      But of course, rotors spin, and so do the pen-pushers with their political jargon.

  9. I imagine these airframes will replace the HC4s and HC6As? Which are basically the original HC1 order which date back to 1980. Will probably allow for ‘Bravo November’ to finally take her rightful place in Hendon.

  10. Hmm, this seems an awful lot of money for 16 chinooks

    The Merlin helicopter is an amazing piece of kit and real vfm for the British taxpayer, at circa £30m each (less I believe) we could get 100 of these excellent British built products that would give us critical mass.

    We could even split this and get 48 new Merlins and 64 Apache’s for this price and maybe even 8 V22 for this money and this is preferable for me, at this point in time.

    Lastly, dont we have some new Chinooks sitting in a hanger somewhere that we tried to upgrade for SFG and made a mess of, or did we get these into the fleet at some point.

    • The “Hanger Queens” stored at Boscombe were already incorporated into the fleet Pac, as bog standard examples I think.

      Maybe these are the new fancy Dans.

      How would you crew the extra 48 Merlin and 64 Apache though!

      • That’s a great question Dan,

        Personally, I would rather have a 200 strong apache force rather than a 300 strong tank force. I also think you wont have many problems recruiting people for these roles, if we accept that each of these needs 16 people to operate and maintained it is 3200 extra or redeployed service personnel, not insignificant, but less than that needed for the challenger fleet I would think.

        For me we need to totally re-organise our military into a single organisation that is aligned around a future set of requirements but is able to meet every eventuality we can think of, only then will we know if we need 16 more chinooks, tanks or a whole load of Apaches and ships. Until then you are right we cant man these without moving some other capability.

        I do believe we need a more significant air and naval footprint than we currently have and think the army is prime for modernisation.

    • (Chris H) Pacman27 – Once again I am happy to go right along with your questioning where this money is being spent. I get the feeling someone is told ‘we need to give the Yanks lots of money find a project’ …. Or am I being overly cynical?

      As I have said many times (sorry) we have enough heavy unit load vertical lift assets. Its the medium lift numbers we need to tackle and the Merlin is the absolutely right answer. Always has been IMHO. Two Merlins will move more troops and freight than one Chinook, actually cost less as that cost is spent here in the UK.

      If we have indeed found some ‘Helo Money Tree’ rather than benefit Boeing we should get every Merlin we already have down to Yeovil, get them up to full RN spec. and then add say 20 more plus service spares for the whole fleet.

      I would also gently correct you, and to be fair to Boeing, the total cost quoted in the article includes a lot of spares, like 4 spare engines, and other costs. But you are correct in your overall point Sir.

      • The Merlin is absolutely not the right answer for medium lift! Why do you think the RAF were so keen to get shot of them whilst keeping even older refurbished Puma and Chinook?! A large triple engine Helicopter makes total sense over the North Atlantic hunting for subs, less so over the FEBA.

        The Merlin is an excellent ASW asset but in the medium lift role it is expensive to run, complex and fragile. To be brutally honest the Chinook is better at the role and it is a heavy lift type.

        It made sense giving the RAF Merlin to the Navy as consolidates the fleet to one service and commonality with the HM2 is useful.

        Two Merlin can indeed carry more than one Chinook but the latter is far less likely to go technical. Also Two Merlin means two crews, something that REALLY isn’t growing on trees at the moment.

        • Further from my previous point, some factors around the Merlin HC3/4 were nagging on my mind so I did some checking.

          The Merlin HC3/4 is a very big helicopter, longer than a Chinook if you don’t count the rotors. The rotor width is virtually the same and the Chinook only has a larger foot print front to back due to its twin rotors.

          With the Merlin vs Chinook you get a helicopter that takes up nearly the same foot print as a Chinook yet has the cost of three engines vs two yet has a sling load that is a 700kg less than an upgraded Puma HC MK2. The larger Cabin of the Merlin does allows twelve more fully armed troops to be carried over the Puma but not even half of what the Chinook can carry.

          The Merlin is a large helicopter that sits awkwardly between the Medium and heavy lift category. If the Merlin can fit into the landing spot then a Chinook will probably fit as well, if the landing spot is too small for the Merlin then the only choice is Puma.

          The EH101 has also been a total failure in the civilian market with major operators preferring the twin engine S92 or the Super Puma.

  11. Why ,what for ,haven’t we got enough of these all ready and didn’t we spend a lot of dosh upgrading them all recently.Where’s the money coming from,more money to Boeing who were recently trying to wreck a Canadian company who employs a lot of Brits.
    Really am not happy with this our tax money should be spent on our kit not feeding Trumps supporters.

    • Boeing reported Canadian Bombadier for selling aircraft under cost in order to gain market share in the US. That’s illegal. Just like the UK complained when China sold steel in the UK under cost in order to gain market share. No difference.

      • (Chris H) Ron5 – This misinformation needs correcting directly. When you only tell half a story and miss out the key part you are at risk of people thinking you are trying to mislead others:
        “Boeing reported Canadian Bombardier for selling aircraft under cost in order to gain market share in the US. That’s illegal.”

        Boeing made a complaint to the US Government ALLEGING the deal between Bombardier and Delta Airlines was done on the back of Canadian subsidies. Trump’s Government levied near 300% tariffs against Canada. What was not mentioned was that Boeing does not offer a 100 seat alternative to the Bombardier C Series aircraft bought by Delta.

        However – In a surprise decision, the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled against Boeing in January this year 4 – 0. The dispute may not be over. Boeing could appeal to the International Court of Trade in New York and the U.S. government could take the case to the World Trade Organization.

        So Boeing’s own US ITC found there was NO illegal trading or subsidies and therefore NO damage to Boeing. Its a shame you forgot to mention that part…..

        And another interesting aspect is that Mr Fedaykin was lecturing me earlier that ‘No one trades under WTO Rules’ well apparently both Canada and the USA do (as we do with them) despite their being part of NAFTA (or its later version). He seems unable to understand that while the WTO does not set Tariffs it enforces those agreed by countries and Customs Unions (like the EU) under their rules.

        Inconvenient Truths…. Some people say its deluded rubbish …

        • Sigh, neither the USA or Canada trade with the EU or most nations globally only under WTO rules. They have reciprocal trade agreements in place, there EU Commission has a whole webpage that explains all of this.

          Sorry you still don’t have a clue what you are taking about.

          • Boeing does in fact offer a 100 seat alternative through their partnership with Embraer in Brazil. That partnership came about due to the long running feud between Embraer and Bombardier. As Brazil has accused Canada of illegally subsidizing Bombardier for decades with the most recent case being brought to the WTO by Brazil in 2017.
            As for the dispute process. Under NAFTA and it’s replacement USMCA contesting a dispute has two paths. The normal one goes like this:
            1. Adjudication by a board of that comprises a member from each country.
            2. A country decides not to abide by the decision and reissues the order it goes to their own National trade dispute process.
            3. Following that the next remedy is the WTO.
            The other process is normally only applicable to actions by the US and Mexico as PMs don possess nearly the same level executive power. That is a Tariff imposed by order of the Chief Executive rather than a government agency in the case of Mexico and the US this would be the President. They are next to impossible to get rid of without the US or Mexico’s approval. The process though is supposed to go like this:
            1. Aggrieved party negotiates and attempts to change the others mind.
            2. Failing that take it to the WTO for resolution.
            Issue with that is WTO isn’t very well liked in very many read hardly any countries. As has been remarked before in many different administrations in subtley different words, “Why should the United States feel bound by the decisions of a body where the largest economy on Earth has the same voice as Botswana or Slovenia.” So actually getting a country like the US, China, Russia or even India to do something to do they truly don’t want to do is like trying to convince a college socialist that money is in fact the root of all good for without it their would only be commerce at the threat of violence and labor under the lash. In short a fool’s errand.

          • (Chris H) Fedaykin – I suspect you are now just baiting all my comments to drag out some abuse in return. You will fail every time. However I will nail your apparent misunderstanding of what the term ‘WTO Rules’ actually means. I am happy to ease your ignorance – Your’re most welcome:

            “The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is the global body governing international trade. Member countries that do not have a free trade agreement with each other trade under “WTO rules”

            “…the default position is that WTO rules would apply [post Brexit] on trade between the UK and the EU and between the UK and third countries (including countries with which the EU has trade deals)”

            “Under WTO rules, each member must grant the same ‘most favoured nation’ (MFN) market access, to all other WTO members. This means that exports to the EU would be subject to the same customs checks, tariffs and regulatory barriers that the UK and EU currently charge on trade with countries such as the US”


            And I have taken these quotes from a pro – EU organisation as well. Just for you – How kind am I?

            So Mr Fedaykin: As the EU has NO Free Trade Deal with the USA or Canada we trade under ‘WTO Rules’. Even their own mutual trade arrangement is governed by WTO Rules and why the USA can take their complaint on behalf of Boeing to the WTO for arbitration.

            Oh and ref your earlier hilarious dig – the EU buys nothing (although we pay them £ Bns) and I never said we sold anything TO the EU so we export (as I said) to ‘EU countries’. Any sales to companies and people outside the UK is actually termed ‘an export’. I know its a difficult concept for a Europhile EU Luvvie like yourself but that is how the world looks at it. UK = Domestic, Non UK = Export.

          • Fedaykin/ Ron 5: I would n’t worry about him guys he plainly thinks all his coloured crayons taste the same.

          • Chris H uses Crayons?!

            Oooh better not be insulting to him as he is taking the moral high ground at the moment.

          • Chris, the EU and US don’t have a comprehensive Free Trade Deal but they do have sector based bilateral trade agreements.

            I know you are finding it very hard to understand in your self righteousness.

            Another fun fact if we leave the EU without a trade deal if we attempt to make new comprehensive trade deals with countries like Japan the Japanese will have to ask the EU first as per the rules within the recently signed comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU.

          • (Chris H) Bill Kenny – thank you for your illuminating post. I am sure your two best friends were highly amused at the childish comment.

            Not sure it added anything to the discussion of course but then that isn’t what you three (or is it 3 profiles from one individual) do is it? You just make everything personal so you can divert the discussion…

            Pretty dumb and sad but hey you have that right …

      • My comment re-Bombadier & Boeing was 100% factual.

        Your reply, not so much.

        There is agreement that Canadian Bombadier signed a contract to sell aircraft under their cost in the US. This is illegal. What is being disputed is whether Boeing has suffered and is due damages.

      • (Chris H) Ron5 – You do know repeating a falsehood does not make it a fact don’t you? Or maybe you don’t sorry ….

        “My comment re-Bombardier & Boeing was 100% factual.”

        No. It was your OPINION – you presented no evidence in support whatsoever then and none now

        “There is agreement that Canadian Bombadier signed a contract to sell aircraft under their cost in the US. This is illegal. What is being disputed is whether Boeing has suffered and is due damages”

        Repeating the same action hoping for a different outcome is a sign of something …. However where is this ‘agreement’? Where is your proof? Who knows outside Bombardier what their costs are? You certainly don’t and yet you purport to tell us here you do. Fraudulent at best. And you conflate and distort the issue to suit your argument. The US ITC itself examined Boeing’s case and found there was NOTHING, ZILCH, NADA illegal about that deal with Delta. It failed to find any wrongdoing by a clear 4 – 0 and yet you know better? Well go advise the US ITC! And btw any matters of ‘due damage’ are consequent upon finding faulty, discriminatory or illegal practices. None were found. Inter Alia – there are no damages.

        As I said before telling half a story and leaving out the key part is at best misleading ….

        • No the ruling in fact was that Bombardier was in fact receiving unfair subsidies. However in US law a plaintiff must prove damage to their self. There are very few circumstances under which someone can sue on behalf of someone else, this is not one of them. What the ITC ruled is that the Embraer’s partnership with Boeing did not constitute a core part of it’s business therefore it was Embraer who should have brought suit not Boeing.

          Note this is why Boeing increased it’s holdings in Embraer after the ruling. Along with a adding some Embraer products and parts to it’s US production lines. Meaning that it will be able to claim damage much more easily next time.

          • (Chris H) Elliott – As always I am happy to be corrected by facts but given the ruling said that no harm was done to Boeing that must negate Boeing’s assertions that the Delta aircraft were improperly subsidised? Surely one follows the other? I have done a lot of research on this as this had a potentially huge effect here in the UK and I can find no reference by any independent authority that Bombardier did more than normal commercial discounting. Reuters reflects generally what I have found:


            But as always if there is alternative data I am happy to go along with that.

            Boeing has form on these challenges and (despite the comments of a certain individual) persuaded the US Government to go to the WTO for adjudication on a similar allegation against Airbus saying it breached WTO Rules (!) and set Boeing at a disadvantage. What the WTO found was that not only had Airbus NOT been subsidised unfairly by EU Governments, although it had been granted overly favourable lower interest rates on commercial loans, Boeing itself had received large amounts of Federal and State subsidies in many forms. I guess we can call that game at 1 – 1 …

  12. What about the NH90 replacing the surviving 23 Puma’s. All these Chinooks are great but soon the refurbished Pumas will need a replacement. SAS insertion, Medivac evacuation, the Puma is still a great asset to the RAF. Some Chinooks airframes date from the early 80’s, while most of the surviving Pumas will be pushing 40 years!

    • I had a look at Puma replacements a while back. And it is damned hard spec to replace directly. Nothing quite hits the spec. Everything is either to large or not quite big enough or has something else that isn’t quite right. I suppose NH90 is a good fit as everything is bigger these days. (I think Merlin was the programme that replaced Wessex as an example. Huge jump in size that!) But NH90 is getting on for Merlin size. Another one to look would be the KAI Surion, even looks a bit like a Puma.

      • Short answer ‘Blackhawk’

        Long answer, we are better off waiting to see what the US Army does to replace its Blackhawk.

      • Nicholas/Steve – if the Puma serves an important role that is hard to transfer to another Helicopter then surely the ideal solution would be to replace them with more Puma (new build of course) or am I missing something ? Already in the inventory,can be UK built,must be cheaper than a Merlin and politically more paletable than buying BlackHawk.

  13. An interesting order, seems like either they are upgrading 32 existing frames, and buying 16 new ones, resulting in 52 units, or are they buying a new 16 with a load of spare parts.

    The spare part option would be a good change, over the normal approach of putting a few in storage and cannibalising them.

    Whilst more chinooks would be good, considering we are unlikely to have enough f35’s to fill the carriers and i assume the albions days are numbered, but wouldn’t it be better to buy something that is designed to operate at sea and so avoid properly protected against salt water etc.

    • That’s what concerns me too about Chinook. It still isn’t a marinised platform. Yes it fits in the carriers. But that isn’t all there is too it.

      Perhaps if they just keep 4 or 6 aboard for one deployment and then rotate another 4 or 6 the next time?

      I don’t think the UK carriers will go to sea as much as US carriers do.

      The RAF chaps must have a good idea of the problems now. And unlike Ocean they will be below some of the time.

      Folding rotors would be good.

  14. Afternoon All
    Apologies I haven’t answered each of the above individually (Daniele/Pacman27/Chris(H) et al) but I will try and give a view below that may provide a bit of clarity with regards to the potential purchase of further Chinook helicopters and their effect on the rotary fleet in general. These are just views and do not represent HMG policy or thought.
    As readers are aware the RAF currently have 60 declared Chinook helicopters with a variety of vintages. Most recently the MoD purchased further Chinook aircraft to satisfy a Herrick requirement, shame it was a bit late but I will leave that for another day.
    It is widely recognised that the Chinook provided HMG with a range of capabilities making it a very versatile and well utilised platform.
    Readers will also be aware that the MoD have been looking for a cost effective COD platform that could operate off a carrier which does not have CTOL capability. Readers will also be aware that a variety of trials have taken place with the V-22 Osprey and are also aware of the rumours that HMG are very interested in the aircraft but are put off by the price.
    HMG loves a compromise.
    What we can get out of these aircraft if we do go through with the purchase provides a solution for a series of capabilities that HMG would like to explore within the people, process and technology constraints that they have to operate within.
    This gives COD – not as good as V-22 or Greyhound but fulfils the requirement as desired by RN within a cost envelope it can afford.
    This allows the RAF to retire the older Chinook aircraft that are costly to maintain, or in most cases are not flying – whilst 60 a/c are declared not all will be in flying condition.
    This complements the current Chinook force and does not introduce a new type to the fleet.

    For those that hope/wish that the Chinook fleet will be increased in size then you are going to be disappointed, there will be no increase to the baseline 60 that are declared, what will increase though is the number of available hours per airframe – more capability utilising the same number of aircraft.
    For those that have read my views before I am an advocate of a reduction in the number of available Chinook helicopters down to 48. 4 active Sqn’s of 8 aircraft, an SF flight of 4 with the remainder used for OCU and training. Whilst the reduction in airframe numbers will annoy some what I am not advocating is a reduction in aircrew numbers. Each aircraft should have a manning of at least 1.5 (8 aircraft per Sqn – 12 operational crews).
    What does this mean for Puma – as readers are aware the extra money to pay for these (if they are purchased) has to come from somewhere. The Puma force is somewhat of an anomaly at the moment, another frame upgraded too late for the role it was upgraded for. The Puma has given sterling service since the early 1970’s but in my opinion its time is up and now would be a good time to retire the fleet early and invest the money in the Chinook fleet, purchase some more Merlin aircraft to give the RN the flexibility it needs to operate its Merlin force (HM2 and HC3) more efficiently. I would also recommend a small increase in Wildcat purchases for the Army, again for better efficiency and flexibility. As mentioned by Sir Humphrey many times, the removal of a complete type reduces costs in the short, medium and long term. Puma pilots can be retrained, Puma engineers and crews can also be retrained. By investing in fewer fleets but doing it properly can only benefit the military as a whole. More aircraft available, more crews trained – simplified support and logistics.

    So what am I suggesting – numbers are below – my 30 secs of being armchair general
    48 Chinook – 4 operational Sqn’s of 8
    36 Merlin HM2 – 3 operational Sqn’s of 8
    36 Merlin HC3 – 3 operational Sqn’s of 8
    48 Wildcat AH – 4 operational Sqn’s of 8 (1 x Cdo Sqn)
    32 Wildcat HM – 2 operational Sqns of 12
    48 Apache AH – 4 operational Sqn’s of 8

    All crewed at 1.5 crews per frame.

    Hope it all makes sense.
    Realistic within the budgetary constraints we have.

    All despite Brexit 🙂

    • Fascinating post as always Lee.

      Those numbers as I read them would then require additional Wildcat AH as you suggested, army bought 34. And of Merlin HC3 and HM2.

      Elephant in the room, as usual, is when assets cannot be in two places at once.

      Same old chestnut in every discussion on our overstretched armed forces.

      If this transpires I wonder of the RAF will allocate one of the Chinook units as a dedicated Squadron for carrier operations? Much like one of the Apache Squadrons is already maritime orientated?

      If additional purchases of Wildcat and Merlin also transpire I will be delighted…and amazed!

      • “If this transpires I wonder of the RAF will allocate one of the Chinook units as a dedicated Squadron for carrier operations? Much like one of the Apache Squadrons is already maritime orientated?” –

        Simple answer, No.

        More complex answer, the QE class will operate as per current planning a ‘Tailored Airgroup’, in other words the UK will deploy FAA, RAF or AAC assets to the vessels as circumstances demand. So for example if HMS Queen Elizabeth is deployed to do disaster relief then the airgroup might well consist mainly of Merlin and Chinook. If it is there to police a No Fly zone then expect to see lots of F35B. If it is to support an opposed landing then expect a mix of types.

    • “Readers will also be aware that the MoD have been looking for a cost effective COD platform that could operate off a carrier which does not have CTOL capability.” –

      No there isn’t! There isn’t any current requirement for a dedicated UK COD platform, there has not even been an inkling from the MOD that is on the cards.

      People need to get real, any attempt to launch a COD platform program will need solid justification. The first thing the Treasury will say if the MOD floated the idea, is “You haven’t needed one since the 1970’s and technically that was just a mail plane unable to deliver anything large or many people to a carrier”. The French don’t have one preferring to ask the USN to dispatch a C2 Greyhound on the odd occasion it is needed to support operations.

      I won’t deny there was some moderate interest and even some requests for information about the V-22, but that was during the concept phase of the Crowsnest program when some Blue-Skies thinking was going on.

      The USN has a dedicated COD type because it has a huge fleet of Super Carriers operating globally each operating an airgroup larger than most nations Airforces, that level of operational intensity on a weekly basis makes a dedicated COD essential. For the UK I struggle to see the reason to burn money on the idea.

      Anyway we are in a very happy situation now the USN has decided to replace the C2 with the CMV22. They will soon operate a COD type that can operate from our carriers and I am sure if the situation arose and we asked nicely they will be able to accommodate our needs much the same as the French do now.

      • Sorry, replied before reading your post.

        The USN problem is that most of their carriers do not have the heavyweight RAS equipment that would allow such heavy things as F-35 engines to be resupplied at sea.

        So they are buying a special version of the V-22 to enable that.

        The UK carriers have the heavyweight RAS so do not need the same COD capability.

    • “Readers will also be aware that the MoD have been looking for a cost effective COD platform that could operate off a carrier which does not have CTOL capability.”

      Utter bollox.

  15. So it’s agreed then 4 x COD 2 for each QE aircraft carriers.8 x for sqn reassigned special ops/ airbourne San .rest spare The clue is in the extra kit being bought.Older frames switched around-spares..

  16. Greetings all,

    I’m not a fan of the Army Wildcat, its under gunned, expensive for what it is and I’m still not sure what its used for. I get battlefield reconnaissance but UAVs do it better, I get troop transport but Puma does it better and Its virtually unarmed so what the hell is it doing?

    Pacman, I’m a big fan of apache, worked with them many times operationally and have fond memories of them turning up for a scrap and causing havoc. What they can’t do is replace ground units, AH64 is a massive force multiplier but is just that, the ground call signs are the force. AH is also incredibly venerable to any sort of air defence, they had free roam in Afgan which is why they were so effective but on the modern battlefield a single 2S6 sat in the middle an enemy battlegroup will cause issues.

    $3.5 Bn is a F**K ton of cash, we could purchase 600 Boxer for that which would have a bigger strategic impact than a few extra airframes.


    • BV

      I agree with you on the army wildcat and would replace with Apaches – moving the wildcats to the RN and letting our escorts have 2 each. There are already trials of boxers with UAV’s taking off from their roofs and I am sure the apache can do everything a wildcat can apart from transport people (which other platforms are better at doing).

      I also agree with you on Apache, but in a world of choices I would choose the UK to standardise on a 4000 strong boxer fleet (with loads of modules) and 200 Apaches and dispense with tracked vehicles for our armoured/mech requirements. My view on this is speed and flexibility is key if the UK reverts to an expeditionary force that would need to re-inforce our European neighbours, rather than sit in their backyards with heavy armour that suits their geography but not ours.

      Every piece of kit has its weaknesses and a boxer or challenger are no different in that respect, I would still have an apache as its more likely to be deployed to help me on the ground, it is that flexibility, speed and lethality that makes me a massive fan of these, and as it currently stands the price point we are purchasing these at is simply unbelievable.

      Apache’s, Merlins and chinooks are highly used pieces of kit, Boxer will be as well I think and I want to see th UK get volume in these platforms and really extract every piece of value from them. But dont dispute anything you have said – its just my preference in how I would set out a mech/heavy armour brigade.

      • 100% agree on what you have said, why have Wildcat when AH64 can do it all and some. I get why we purchased them, British jobs and all but why not pay a little extra cash to have a pair of Hellfire hanging off the side, it makes it much more useful.

        I think wheels are the future, the French are doing well in Mali with VBCI and have replaced their AMX-10P with them (not a hard act to follow to be honest), strategic self deployment is the future.

        It seems to be a British theme when it comes to procurement, lots of shiny bits, ridiculously expensive but somehow has very little kinetic effect. For example;

        Warrior/Warrior 2/Ajax (no ATGM)
        Merlin (great sub killer but no ASM)
        81mm mortars (not 120mm)
        Wildcat (7.62 only)
        Type 45 (Harpoon eventually, no TLAM)
        River class (2000 tons, 1 X 30mm cannon)
        AS-90 (39 cal barrel not 52)
        MLRS (only PGMs not cluster)
        Infantry section (no LMG)

        People will say that some the systems are specialists in their field, for example Rivers class is for patrolling not for fighting, but if the worst happened and we do go to war, she will be used.

        Back on topic, do we need this many Chinooks? Where do they fit in with modern high intensity war fighting? Think of what we can have instead.


        • Yes we need that many Chinooks.

          The Chinook fleet is one of things we do right. If we overlook that one procurement cock-up!

  17. 32 installed Miniguns and M240s. Is it just me or have they forgotten the ramp gun? I would’ve expected 32 miniguns and 16 M240s to match the current installation or 48 M240s to allow a 3 gun fit.

    • No, the statement is correct. The standard fit would be port and starboard mini guns with a 240 on the ramp. These new Chinooks can also be fitted with two additional M240 guns further down the cabin to give a total of five weapons.

  18. Morning all
    Think I have to reply to one or two of the comments above:
    COD is not just a method of delivering the mail.
    For RN use, like most things in the UK ORBAT will have multiple uses, narrowing it to just mail delivery doesn’t fully recognise the capability the platform delivers.
    With any aircraft carrier you want to keep the ship as far away from the FEBA as possible, this was most recently displayed in 1982 when the carrier groups were kept out side or on the boarder of the EEZ and therefore only allowed Harrier FRS1 10 minutes on CAP before having to return.
    With a longer legged chinook this allows the carrier to operate further away from shore so if the TAG was based on Amphibious Assault you could launch it from further out so as not to endanger the ACC by moving it closer to shore due to limitations of the range of the helicopter.
    F-35 has longer radius, pilots would like the comfort that something can come and get them if they go down.
    Carriers do not like coming in to shore every time they have to pick up spare parts if they are operating without an RFA, I could go on.
    $3.5bn is total cost of of system including training and support, we have to start looking past pure unit cost and look at the system being purchased.
    Build will be done in US, support and maintenance will be done in the UK – that constitutes most of the cost, most of the work will be carried on in the UK

    • Hello Lee, I was thinking the same about the Chinook/carrier combination now that HMS Ocean has gone. It’s one way to keep the Carriers further out of Harms way.

    • You have zero evidence that these Chinooks are being purchased for carrier use. You’ve spun a web of wishful thinking and outright mistruths in order to bolster your weird claims. Give it and us a rest.

      • Evening Ron5
        Apologies for stating opinions but my understanding is that this a blog, where opinions and different views were sought.
        I am intrigued by your use of the “outright mistruths” and “weird claims”.
        I guess i have to say “100% factual” then it will be true – if you could provide evidence that Bombardier illegally sold aircraft in the US at below cost value – evidence would be nice, courts like that – they have trouble believing something just because Ron5 says its “100% factual” – 110% and you may be on to something.
        Pretty sure there is evidence though of Chinook being operated from QE – probably a picture or something, some kind of press release. I will check though, I don’t want my wishful thinking or wield claims get the better of me. Pretty sure there is also evidence of HMG putting a request in for a potential FMS for 16 H-47, I have seen it somewhere but it could be a mistruth or a weird claim.

        • There is a photo of them putting one onto the lift… just, but she went below to the hangar.

          No one has mentioned that T26 is supposed to take a Chinook for distributive tasking of the Royal. Where will they come from?

      • (Chris H) Ron5 – Quote:

        “Give it and us a rest.”

        Once again we see your abusive and patronising self at its best right there. This time aimed at a very informative and friendly commentator. Happily YOU Old Son do not speak for ‘us’ and I have no doubt ‘we’ are more than happy to read other’s opinions, ideas and suggestions. Unlike you and your alter ego Fedaykin who feel some need to belittle and shut down anyone with whom you disagree. Or people you just want to annoy and antagonise to get a cheap shot reaction

        In short Ron how about you STFU, stow your attitude and give others a bloody rest?

      • Ron5, I think the Chinooks, If Ordered would be used for various tasks just as they are at Present. It’s only my opinion though.

        • I don’t mind opinions.

          I do mind folks writing their opinions as facts and making up stuff in justification.

          Merlins perform, and will remain performing, COD. The MoD has no requirement to replace them in that role and consequently is not going to spend 3.5 billion dollars in doing so.

  19. With the rumors being focused on cutting helicopters in the defence review, i wonder if this is a counter balance, we are cutting the legacy platforms and replacing with a few chinooks (along with the normal which are significantly more powerful and worth 10 of the others or something like that).

    Cutting back to apache, merlin, wildcat and chinooks only.

    • Morning Steve
      MoD has to start showing a good return in investment whilst sustaining key defence industries.
      Maintaining old platforms is not cost effective and requires legacy skills to be maintained which is costly.
      We have to start looking past the number of aircraft available and start looking at hours of availability for each capability, this means frames, people and a robust supportable supply (industry) chain.
      We see various blogs talking about numbers of x and numbers of y but not about the state of availability.
      The four aircraft types you mention above provide a good supportable solid base to sustain rotary operations for the next 20 years, allowing for new aircraft to be bought as those that come to the end of their lives (based on hrs flying) get replaced. It allows the 3 services some independence in operation whilst declaring assets to JHC who will manage the capability on behalf of the MoD.
      Single services generating capability which can be declared to JHC for use by PJHQ.
      The system is a good one, it just needs to be used better.

      • Whilst i agree with you, and reducing types down makes a lot of sense from a cost perspective and allows for better distribution of parts / pilots / engineers. It makes less sense in a war situation, which the planning should be focused on rather than just focusing on peace time.

        There is the problem that if you cut frames down, there is nothing to rush into service if the stuff hits the fan. We saw in the falklands (and iraq/afgan etc etc) that equipment that would not normally be available, was rushed back into service to allow for it to be used, if there is insufficient units, this can not happen. In other words the normal repair cycle / availability rate goes out the window when needs must.

        We also have a gap in the middle between Chinook and Wildcat. I really don’t get why the wildcat is not a little bigger, to allow for carrying sufficient troops and firepower, but still fit on the frigates. In my opinion going for the wildcat was a mistake, it was legacy battle field thinking of helicopter surveillance units, in an era of drones. I can’t help thinking the decision should have been to upgrade the puma (especially considering the wildcat was insanely expensive) rather than upgrade the Lynx, but i assume this was not made because the navy needed a small helicopter for its frigates/opv.

        Finally if we are going to use the chinooks more for naval assets, which seems the case, the availability rate will plummet, as they are not designed for salt water.

        In the end its down the money, we can’t afford the air frames we have, and so cutting less suitable units without replacing, makes way more sense than cutting across the board.

        • Hi Steve
          With the Chinook, specifically the H-47, I think it’s role will be very much JPR and COD on the carrier and JPR as an asset declared to NATO via PJHQ.
          What the aircraft offers is not just military capability but political leverage as well, it means we can share responsibility with the USAF with regards to the JPR capability, share training on common airframes, very much as we are doing on F-35, P-8 and potentially Apache.
          The Lynx Wildcat is an odd one, I can understand it and it’s use for the Army/RM as a liaison and light utility helicopter (things the apache cannot do) but for the RN I would have thought they would have taken NH-90. Its a mature design now and all our platforms are being designed to take “chinook sized aircraft”. I can only assume simplicity in training and export de-risking (many navies use the legacy Lynx and they will need replacing) was a reason and the political one of keeping Yeovil up and running.
          With regards to your numbers, in the event of war or an event that would require the bulk of fleets to be deployed I think the numbers are adaquate against the requirement, as you state we cannot afford to keep all the frames we have a the moment so a risk has to be taken somewhere unless we are going to vastly increase the defence budget.

          We can only hope those that are mulling over MDP are having the same discussions we are – we shall see.

          • NH90 is too big really, it approaches Merlin in size but doesn’t quite get there! 🙂

            While Wildcat is a good size down. The helicopter is an essential for navies. So it understandable that a modern navy like the RN would end up with two sizes.

            Normally it is bods complaining that the Army has ended up with a good ASW helicopter not that RN has ended up with a good liaison cab.

  20. If i read the spec correctly, wildcat can hold a fireteam whilst a blackhawk can carry a section/squad.

    There are situations where a chinook is not the best option and in those situations, we have a problem currently, as it would require 2 wildcat’s to get a section in.

    • So it could be useful to insert a Jav team or a sniper pair but it’s a very niche capability. I also see it as a manned battlefield ISTAR asset but it’s just a fast unarmed Ajax with less coms fit, certainly not worth the money.


      • 2nd role of UK air power
        Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance informs the development of understanding across all environments
        You cannot do that with Boxer.
        From an AirPower point of view – Boxer is a target.
        Please feel free to read:

        Please don’t think I am purely an air based enthusiast, all platforms have there place, Boxer is not a replacement for wildcat, however fast it may be.

        • With the wildcat not having a secure data link, it is just a slow version of a UAV, survalliance/recce by helicopter would be very dangerous in a modern warfare situation.

          I just think we get obsessed with propping up UK industry, without really thinking through what the money is intended for, which is war fighting and giving our soldiers the best chance of winning. If all things are equal or equal ish, we should buy from British firms, but if it means taking capability cuts or massive extra costs then no.

          • Spot on with your last paragraph IMO Steve.

            Military Industrial Complex always the government priority.

        • Lee I think you misunderstood what I was saying, I didn’t say replace Wildcat with Boxer, I said the Army version of Wildcat is a pointless and expensive machine that has no real role on the modern battlefield and what role it is used for can be done better with other assets. For example, the tactical airborne ISTAR role being done better with UAVs, troop transport by a medium lift ect.

          How this convocation has turned from low level tactical applications of rotary air into joint air doctrine in just two posts I don’t know.

          “2nd role of UK air power
          Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance informs the development of understanding across all environments”

          I’m content with that, ISTAR is a critical facet of warfare but I’m not sure what you are saying. Are you implying that the entire UK ISTAR network of satellites, AWACS, ASTOR, Preditor, Rivetjoint ect will all come crashing down if we don’t have Wildcat with its basic FLIR sight and substandard radio fit?

          “You cannot do that with Boxer”

          You can’t do ISTAR with Boxer? Better tell the Australian Army that.

          What you can do with ground based ISTAR is have a persistent presence measured in weeks not hours, operating in an incredibly hostile (Physical and electronic) environment while gathering the fidelity of information air assets can only dream of. To have the ability to turn kinetic instantly to exploit an opportunity but still have the flexibility to roll straight into a stabilisation operation (3 block war).

          You can’t do that with Wildcat!

          “From an AirPower point of view – Boxer is a target.”

          Agreed, From an AirPower point of view everything is a target, the problem is you assume you have control of the air, this is far from guaranteed. Then what? ISTAR will be left to the young lads dug in sub surface.


          • Hi BV
            I think on most points we agree so apologies if I misunderstood.
            I do not see the Army Wildcat as a pointless machine, expensive I agree.
            However to enable ground forces to fully exploit the the ground you do need control of the air. Part of that system, however expensive is the Wildcat which is trying to replace two platforms, Gazelle and Lynx AH8/9.
            I disagree with regards to the radio fit on the platform however, this can be tailored to satisfy the requirement (Bowman and PRC-117G) provide the UK and wider NATO interoperability requirements and these can be role fitted.
            I am always nervous to allow UAV platforms to replace in totality the man in the loop, the commander in the air who with his/her own eyes can make a better judgement of the circumstances around them rather than relying on a UAV camera that can, through a variety of methods be denied or spoofed.

            I do not imply the the entire UK ISTAR network will come crashing down, what I am saying is that a utility helicopter has its place, something that can be used for observation, troop moves and insertions, battlefield support – the utility list goes on.

            Ground based ISTAR is an integral part of the ORBAT, however it is just one part – as you say fidelity of information through things seen with your own eyes (persistent presence) far outweighs the view from a UAV, the commander is going to want to see what his/her troops can see – either get him/her there via rotary lift or put them in the sky so they can see it from there.

            One thing we learnt from Afghanistan is the force multiplier the rotary asset can have, especially the utility platform which is small, mobile and fast.

            You are right that air power cannot replace boots on the ground (the RAF from the early 1930’s found that out in the Middle East) but it is an integral part. You need a Wildcat type platform to help enable that integral part. Is Wildcat the right aircraft, that is irrelevant now – it is the one that we have.

            Having been the lad on the ground I was content that the decisions made by those above me took into account control of the air.
            Every major operation in the last 40 years has made that a provisio, unless your are the SF team going in to Recce the target – a team normally delivered by a small light utility helicopter.

          • I completely agree with what you’re saying, If you don’t control the air you may as well pack up and go home.

            You are correct in saying Wildcat can be fitted with different radios, but I don’t think that we went down that route and only fitted it with just HF (PRC-117G which is part of Bowman) to speak to the ground , I was expecting more to be honest, I regularly work on vehicles with 2 VHF, 1 HF and a HCDR, it just seems odd that a helicopter gets a basic fit. It could have Link 16/TACSAT ect.

            I get the utility point, sometimes you just don’t need a big helicopter to deliver a small important VIP/Package.

            “Is Wildcat the right aircraft, that is irrelevant now” Probably the most important statement from both of us so far, we have that bloody thing and that’s that, nothing we can do now.

            Everything else I agree with you on, sort of a convocation killer really, I may say something controversial just to keep it going. Let me see, the earth is flat, Jeremy Corbyn is a top guy, Nicola Sturgeon for PM.


    • Hi Steve
      Sad fact
      We were offered 60 Blackhawk for £600m, we turned it down.
      Instead we got 28 Puma and Wildcat.
      If I tell you that one of the blockers was the weight of the aircraft……
      I’ll leave that teaser out there, someone will know why weight is important, it’s got nothing to do with operations but this is why MoD are sometimes disfunctional

      • This would be the mythical weight demarcation line between what the RAF can fly and what the AAC can fly.

        FWIW. I tend to see Chinook more as a small aeroplane with big propellers in the wrong place than helicopter. It is the last link in the air logistics chain that can do some tactical work.

        It’s just one of those things that the RAF has Puma while other countries would have the army flying them. It matters little really in the end who flies them. They all owned by the same entity at the end of the day.

        • (Chris H) Steve, BV, LeeH – some excellent comments there so thank you. All very informative and helpful in this discussion.

          Every day is a school day and I am happy to read and learn …

      • 600?

        I thought it was sadder than that.

        I thought we were offered them for 300 million.

        Instead we spent over 1 billion.

  21. Its instructive to look at the Dutch (2011) and Singapore Air Force decisions (2017) around heli-lift. When given options to consolidate (see dates) they still went with a heavy / medium mix as optimal even if it was more expensive (especially for the Dutch).

    Dutch stayed with the Chinook / AS532.
    Singapore just rung up new orders for the Chinook F / H225 Caracal.

    No light battlefield helos for either force, just the Apache.
    And in both cases all these helos are flown by the Air Force. Seems to work. Just saying.

    Our decision with Wildcat AH seems just a little bit more of an outlier. But thats spilt milk and we have what we have. We now need to make it work.

    Please note, I’m not a Wildcat hater. I’m a big fan of the Wildcat HM, seems the right size for Naval Ops.

    • Both the Army and Navy require a light helicopter that can either carry a small platoon or can carry a multitude of offensive weapons. Also you want the aircraft to operate from small landing pads like the rear end of a frigate or land in confined built up areas or spaces.
      This is the reason why I believe it will be the Puma that is cut and not the Wildcat. The Puma also has the problem of it cannot be operated from a ship in a sea state greater than 1. As the aircraft is too top heavy and has very narrow footprint. The Super Puma is different has they have moved the rear undercarriage further out from the centre line, but it is still limited to the sea state it can operate in.

  22. Morning all
    Great debate as always, good fun to read through again on a commute into the big smoke.
    It is always refreshing to see such passion on these types of blogs, some strings of opinions thoroughly thought through and articulated, others not so much – the fun of democracy and freedom of speech.

    For all it’s worth I do hope that this order is followed through, it will be more difficult now that other vendor lobbiests are starting to be heard in newspapers and the wider press talking about the MoD/Boeing single source relearionship.
    Fact of the matter is they have product we want and we did not invest in R&D when we should have, however you have to cut your cloth accordingly.
    Boeing have a big footprint in the UK and utilise UK vendors (Westlands) and those located in the UK (Vector) amongst others for maintenance and support work.
    A fleet of 48 is sustainable in the medium to long term and if it is made up of 16 new H-47 chinooks, 14 Mk6, 6 Mk3a and the remainder of the most up to date chinook platforms based out of RAF Odiham then that can only be a good thing. If we manage to keep hold of more, towards the 60 that we currently have on strength (even if some are kept in storage) as long as it allows at least one full Sqn of 8 helicopters and 12 full CR crews to be deployable, at any time world wide then I, personally, would be content.

    The wider rotary question has been one that has hung around the MoD planners necks for years.
    When it comes to the Army and RAF they look at the aircraft differently; the RAF see it as an aircraft first, that can fight and the Army see it as a weapon platform first that can fly.
    These cultural questions, whilst irrelevant to many stimulate many questions at places like CFS when working out how to treat the platform and how to operate it.
    This is one of the reasons JHC was formed, to try and write a doctrine, that whilst not damaging the ethos of single services and how they regard their aircraft but creating a doctrine that could be used by PJHQ when it came to deploying them.

    MDP is going to be a painful experience for some, certain fleets will get smaller or be removed altogether, we have to make sure that the capability that they provide is not eroded and that the man/woman on the ground has the equipment he/she needs to be the direct instrument of HMG policy that they are tasked to be.

    Have a good day

  23. Late to comment, but I wanted to mull it over.
    I think the RAF needs to replace 7 of their oldest Chinook, so buying 7 new ones makes sense. Not sure about 16 though.
    I would rather buy 4 CMV-22 + 6 MV-22 for the Royal Navy, to maximise the potential of the new carriers HMS QE/PoW.
    So, had it been me, I would have ordered 7 Chinook for the RAF & 10 Osprey for the RN, rather than 16 Chinook.

  24. Can anyone tell me if any of the current Chinooks are equipped with folding rotors and if not as I suspect why not?

    As there is no mention of folding rotors I assume the new batch will not either.

    QE class is big ship but the footprint of a Chinook parked on deck is and will be huge.

      • There are no Chinooks with folding rotors. The aircraft you’re thinking off is the Baby Wokka, the CH46 Sea Knight. This is the aircraft the V22 Osprey was designed to replace in the US Navy and Marine Corps. It does have hydraulically operated folding rotor blades, so can stow the blades over and alongside the fuselage.
        Like the Chinook the Sea Knight uses an old school fully articulated head. The head’s 3 blades are synchronised to inter-mesh at 60 degrees. It is technically feasible for the Chinook to have the same design of head, but it has never progressed further than a prototype, as it was primarily used by the army.
        The Chinook has not been “marinised” as per the Merlin so requires more maintenance to make sure the Aluminium rot is kept in check.
        These new aircraft will be used to replace existing airframes, predominently those that have been in service since 1981 i.e. those that were MK1s then Mk2s to Mk4s and finally to MK6As with the DAFCS upgrade. When the new aircraft enter service these original aircraft would have served for at least 50 years. It has been said that helicopters do not suffer from fatigue or a g limiting factor, which technically correct but wrong in the case of the RAF Chinooks. This is because the RAF compared to the US Army flies them differently. The US Army flies them more like a Greyhound bus i.e. up to 2500ft straight path to landing area, then lands. Ours fly nap of the earth which puts a great deal of stress on the transmissions and airframe. Also our pilot’s push the aircraft to the max compared to the yanks.
        As many of you know the aircraft performed stirling work in both Iraq and Afghan. However, it has put a massive penalty on the airframes which now require more time going through maintenance to recover. Take a look at how the aircraft did airshows a few years back and compare it with today’s. You’ll find today’s air displays have been tamed down significantly because of the stress and fatigue.
        This is the reason why the RAF are getting replacement Chinooks.

  25. Well, Up till a few weeks ago, I was a total Ignoramus where Defence stuff was concerned, I have to say that This site has been a real Eye Opener. From what I can see, My old Shipmate Chris(H) sort of Owns the Top Deck and a few others are fighting below decks. Just like it was back in the 80’s.!!! unless I’m sadly Mistaken. God Save the Queen.

  26. I have just read an article stating that the US pays around £30 million pounds per chinnock. So that’s less than half a billion for 16. Therefor we are paying £3 billion for spares and maintenance. I thought the figure of £3.5 billion sounded high for such a small number of helicopters, christ, 3.5 billion would buy us nearly double the number of F35!
    Why are we being ripped off?
    Also, how come we can find this sum for a handful of helicopters from out overstretched budget, but not sorely needed frigates and armaments?


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