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.

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Peter Elliott

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.


$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….


Do we need these? Medium lift chopper fleet is well stocked, why not more Poseidon or typhoons?

David E Flandry

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.

John Clark

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… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

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… Read more »


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… Read more »


Invest the $3.5bn in Apaches. We have enough transport helicopters. Get back to 3 AAC active regiments.

Daniele Mandelli

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… Read more »

Bloke down the pub

If crewing remains an issue, we should be looking to an unmanned future for many of the roles carried out by helicopters.

Anthony D

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?

Anthony D

Bases. Not bars!

Daniele Mandelli

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… Read more »


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


wow, is Bravo November still kicking about, they need to give it a Victoria cross for all it has done!


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… Read more »


(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… Read more »


We don’t need the AW609 so I don’t understand why you constantly bring it up!


(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.… Read more »

captain P Wash

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… Read more »


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… Read more »


“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… Read more »


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.

Steven Richard-Davies

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… Read more »


“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… Read more »


Are the yanks buying osprey for COD?


No doubt we get 16 new helicopters and lose 20+ helos already in servce,

Daniele Mandelli

Exactly. Seen it all too often Mick, sadly.

Necessary Evil

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.

Daniele Mandelli

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.


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.

Daniele Mandelli

Quite right! WHAT a helicopter she is. Legend.


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… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

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… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Thanks Pac. You know I’m in full agreement on your last paragraph especially.


(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… Read more »


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… Read more »


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… Read more »


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… Read more »


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… Read more »


(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… Read more »

Bill Kenny

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.


In reply to Chris (Chris H).


(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… Read more »


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… Read more »


(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… Read more »


(Chris H) – an 18 line post and its the 2 lines mentioning AW609 that gets singled out for attention.

Dearie me …


I realise that it includes a lot of things but it’s a hell of a price for 16 aircraft.


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!

Steve Taylor

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.

Steve Taylor

I don’t know. You can’t argue with it as a thing in itself. But you are losing 6/7 pax I think.


Merlin replaced Sea King. They have very similar footprints.

Paul T

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.


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… Read more »

Steve Taylor

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.

Lee H

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… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

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… Read more »


“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… Read more »


“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… Read more »


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.

David T

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..

BV Buster

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… Read more »


Wildcat = UK jobs.


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… Read more »

BV Buster

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… Read more »

Steve Taylor

Yes we need that many Chinooks.

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

Dan B

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.


What about H225M as Puma Replacement?

Lee H

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… Read more »

Captain P Wash

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.

Lee H

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… Read more »


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… Read more »

Captain P Wash

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.


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.

Lee H

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… Read more »


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… Read more »

Lee H

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… Read more »

Steve Taylor

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.


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.

BV Buster

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.


Lee H

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.

Daniele Mandelli

Spot on with your last paragraph IMO Steve.

Military Industrial Complex always the government priority.

BV Buster

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… Read more »

Lee H

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… Read more »

BV Buster

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.… Read more »

Lee H

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

Steve Taylor

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 …

Daniele Mandelli


I thought it was sadder than that.

I thought we were offered them for 300 million.

Instead we spent over 1 billion.


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… Read more »

David Branney

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… Read more »

Lee H

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… Read more »


Why can’t the French buy their own helicopters?


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.


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.


They all fold. I suspect you want powered folding like the Merlins.

David Branney

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… Read more »


As I understand it not so long back the rotors did not fold so for storage below deck would need the rotors removed.

captain P Wash

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.


If you mean Chris H owns the Top Deck I presume you mean with a mop and bucket?


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?

Manx Free State

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