A contract worth £1.4 billion has been agreed for the purchase of 14 new Chinook aircraft over the next 10 years.

UPDATE – This article has been corrected and the ‘Chinook’ specifcations section has been removed, a user informed us via e-mail that the specifications for the aircraft are for a different variant.

The helicopter can operate in a diverse range of environments, from the desert to the arctic, and transport up to 55 personnel or ten tonnes of cargo say the Royal Air Force in a news release.

With a top speed of 300 kilometres per hour, the new H-47(ER) aircraft will have a range of new capabilities, including:

  • advanced digital cockpit
  • modernised airframe to increase stability and improve survivability
  • digital automatic flight control system to allow pilots to hover in areas of limited visibility

The 14 aircraft will be purchased from the US via a Foreign Military Sales agreement and includes development and manufacture over the next decade.

Deliveries are scheduled to start in 2026. The new helicopters will be based at RAF Odiham, the home of the Chinook fleet.

Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, was quoted as saying:

“From assisting emergency repairs to UK flood defences, providing vital logistics support during COVID-19 to its war-fighting role on Afghan battlefields, the Chinook has been the workhorse of the Armed Forces for over 40 years. The cutting edge H-47 (ER) will be at the forefront of our specialist requirements in dealing with threats and logistic support. Our £1.4 billion investment will mean we will be one of very few air forces with this capability.”

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
101 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
1 month ago

So that’s £100,000,000 a pop then 😱

Paul42
Paul42
1 month ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

Presumably includes a load of spares and supporting services. Whilst the Chinnoks capabilities are appreciated, we seem to just go on buying more…. its about time we fully appreciated the unique capabilities of the MV22 Osprey and bought a batch! A combined force of Chinooks and Ospreys would give us a far greater and better capability across the board.

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

Crikey, We’ll be asking for another Ocean next !

Paul42
Paul42
1 month ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

That would be nice, but unlikely right now. However, the extended range of the Osprey would at least enable one of the QEs to operate in a semi LPH role.

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

To be honest I am struggling to understand why we would buy Osprey for special forces insertion. My own googling says this latest Chinook can carry twice as many troops the same distance, albeit a little slower. The internal cargo dimensions of Chinook are larger both length and width. And in vertical lift the Chinook also can lift a greater payload. Happy to learn here. Am I missing something?

Paul42
Paul42
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

US Special forces based at RAF Mildenhall undertake missions around the world including hostage rescue. SP forces parachute in from MC130s do the business and exit very quickly in CV22 Ospreys flying extremely low at speed. The key issue is range and speed, 200 miles is a big distance and greatly assists with forward basing, plus of course the slower you fly, the greater the opportunity for the bad guys to target and destroy you. Range and speed in Special Ops is critical, the Chinook is a heavy lift helicopter, great at lifting weights and transporting troops across battlefields over… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

Cheers for the operational insight. I can see the V22 has an edge on speed. I’m not qualified to have an opinion on its value. Be interested to see how special forces capabilities things work out without the C130s and hopefully with A400 parachuting and longer range Chinooks.

Bill
Bill
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

If they don’t solve the problem of parachuting out of the A400 and it’s high time that particular digit was extracted, then the paras will be jumping out of the Globemasters. Could be worse. No paras!!

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago
Reply to  Bill

Here’s the good news.
https://www.airbus.com/newsroom/press-releases/en/2020/06/airbus-a400m-completes-full-paratrooper-simultaneous-dispatch-certification.html
The changes to the RAF aircraft still have to be implemented of course.

Bill
Bill
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Good news certainly but now with the C130J’s on the way out, the MOD can get on with certification of the A400’s. Watch this space!

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

That would be tricky Captain, where would we put a new ocean?

The best we could manage is a large ‘ish’ inland sea, I would certainly put forward Swindon as a great place to position it though…..

Last edited 1 month ago by John Clark
Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Would Ships still have to negotiate the “Magic Roundabout” though ?
😄

AJP1960
AJP1960
1 month ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

Hey, we’ve already got the great Coate Water.

Damn, I’ve outed my location

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

Paul, Don’t forget the massive increase in the logistical costs associated with Ospreys would probably make them unaffordable.
I think we are better off waiting for a second generation tilt rotor system coming to market, then see what benefits they offer.

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew

Kind of how I see it too Andrew, the Osprey’s seem great but the cost and the maintenance issues make me think we would be better waiting on ‘Son of Osprey’ when hopefully all the bugs have been ironed out.

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew

Perhaps this? Not what the line drawings illustrate, which is a commercial aircraft illustration, but the technical improvements discussed.

https://www.flightglobal.com/helicopters/us-air-force-signs-research-contract-for-bells-high-speed-vtol/143611.article

Martyn Parker
Martyn Parker
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

Aye let’s introduce another type that will require all the necessary infrastructure changes that would about double the cost for an aircraft that will offer negligible benefits

Paul42
Paul42
1 month ago
Reply to  Martyn Parker

Compare the performance characteristics of both then say the MV22 offers negligible benefits. It simply outclasses the Chinook and the far greater range and speed would greatly enhance UK capabilities.

Martyn Parker
Martyn Parker
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

It has 200 miles more range, that is hardly far greater, it is a maintenance nightmare, I would hardly call that enhancing, it’s cost per flight hour is astronomical in comparison to the Chinook, It carries about half the tonnage and has an unprecedented ability to fall out of the sky, yeah it’s faster, but so what?

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

Don’t forget the V22 Osprey was designed to replace the CH46 Sea Knight, not the Chinook.

Johan
Johan
27 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

But if you wanted that Range and to insert the numbers wouldnt you use a Herc or an A400m. PERFORMANCE costs money and Osprey is only just living upto its development cost.

ATH
ATH
28 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

The V-22 makes the CH-47 look cheap. Japan paid $3B for 17 inc supporting equipment and services.

Paul42
Paul42
28 days ago
Reply to  ATH

Thats 2.1 billion GDP for 17 x Ospreys including all support services as opposed to 1.4 billion for 14 Chinooks, bearing in mind most support services are already in place. Bearing in mind the enhanced capabilities offered by the MV/CV22, specially to the RN, i would say the additional cost was more than worth it.

Johan
Johan
27 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

The New Chinook has very little in common with RAFs current airframes, its a 40-year programme. and the RAF are happy to pay for this type. Where would the Osprey Live, RN more interested in the Bell rotary craft. Another nail in its coffin for the Navy/Army was its to fast for the attack helicopters to keep up with. so it goes in undefended. something even the USMC doesnt like.

Johan
Johan
27 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

V22 unit cost was restrictive, as the unit cost was very high and then parts and service life. for a small number of units, the original paper was costed for 20 airframes. @ $750.000 dollars per unit with an additional $750.000 service costs over their lifetime. RAF wanted the Navy to pay for them but as a Transport, they Come under The RAF Like the Chinook. Navy couldn’t see any benefits in unit cost, when you compare you can have say 8 BlackHawks for the cost of One V22. a great bit of kit but to deliver the SF is… Read more »

Paul42
Paul42
27 days ago
Reply to  Johan

Per deal done with the Japanese, 17 x MV22 with support services would be 2.1 billion as opposed to 1.4 for 14 x Chinooks. Given the greatly enhanced capabilities it offers, its worth it. In IRAQ it was the only rotary asset that could cross the country without a fuel pit stop. With others men and kit had to be sent out to destinations in order to facilitate ground refuelling. Yes, in theory it should live with the RN, it would actually give a QE the ability to launch an aerial assault by the Royal Marines whilst operating in deep… Read more »

David
David
1 month ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

So, 250,000,000 for a Type 31 makes sense of this price tag???

Are these Chinooks gold plated?

Johan
Johan
27 days ago
Reply to  David

50/50 split over the lifespan of the program unit cost/service cost it ensures the MOD spends its Money once and not 30 times

TrevorH
TrevorH
1 month ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

No. I believe the fly away cost is 35 million, half the fly away cost of an osprey. Well… so says Wiki. I am happy to be corrected.

I’m guessing to total cost is the usual training and spares. There were of course the 6 or 8 (?) ones bought for SF use which cost an eyewatering amount and never worked as intended.

I’ve seen Chinooks do acrobatics. Amazing.

captain p wash
captain p wash
1 month ago
Reply to  TrevorH

I read the Wiki article to see what the cost’s were but I think the figures quoted are from quite a while back, so I’m guessing maybe 60 million each ? purely a guess though. The Aerobatics displays are incredible especially with two of them…. They seem to defy all laws of Gravity.

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago
Reply to  captain p wash

Boeing were considerably concerned on how we fly the Chinook, especially during air displays and fighter evasion. The aerobatics have been slowed down and tamed. if you can find a video of a Chinook’s air display 10 years ago and compare it to a much newer one. You’ll see a massive difference.

BigH1979
BigH1979
1 month ago
Reply to  TrevorH

Ive been in a Chinook doing aerobatics over Lough Neagh with the ramp door down and the Loadie weightless in mid air. All to put the sh*ts up us newbies in province….😂

Bill
Bill
1 month ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

Unbelievable price per unit! Seriously? Yes, it had better come with a shitload of spares for that. Daylight robbery! Maybe we can sell half a dozen of the old ones to the French, our glorious allies, to save them using ours in Africa now. Say £25m a pop?

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago

I think these are the UK equivalent of the MH-47 model ordered by US special forces. They have the long range fuel tanks.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

I think the long range tanks have been included from the last buy Paul, makes a lot of sense.

If we are serious about light expeditionary operations moving forward, we best make sure we have sufficient numbers of
up to date and battle ready, Chinook and Apache. Also enough A400/C17 to get a sizable number of the above deployed, worldwide and quickly.

Last edited 1 month ago by John Clark
Geoffrey Roach
Geoffrey Roach
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Absolutely agree but the new medium lift and also the Wildcat have a good range and the latter can offer real firepower.

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Yes, looking again at images of existing RAF Chinooks I think you are right. The US special forces model does have a number of other obviously expensive self-defence features though I believe. Not sure about a refueling probe.

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

If you are flying long distances, the external “fat tanks” means that the aircraft doesn’t require an additional internal cabin tank. The internal tank takes up a lot of room, which cuts down on the number of passengers or internal freight you can carry.

David
David
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Are these properly integrated long range tanks? The last time I was in a Chinook (2007) it had a large and rather Heath Robinson tank in the cargo compartment which took up a lot of space. Apparently this Chinook had been adapted for use by special forces…

Pompeyblokeinoxford
Pompeyblokeinoxford
1 month ago
Reply to  David

You are referring to ferry tanks, probably left over from the Andover. These are in the sponsons.

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago

No they are specific tanks, built especially for the Chinook. They meet all the MAA safety requirements. They are designed to be fitted or removed within an hour. Back in the early 80’s they did use a Andover tank mounted in a cage that was bolted down to the floor.

Last edited 1 month ago by DaveyB
Paul.P
Paul.P
1 month ago
Reply to  David

If it is the US special forces variant we are buying there is more info here.

https://www.defensenews.com/land/2020/09/01/us-special-operations-command-gets-first-brand-new-chinook-variant/

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  David

They are the proper saddle tank extensions David, better than the cargo hold colostomy bag any day!

Dave G
Dave G
1 month ago
Reply to  David

Google raf chinook mk5 and mk6 and compare the size of the tanks along the fuselage. Mk5 has the long range fuel tank….

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Correct

Order of the Ditch
Order of the Ditch
1 month ago

Is this order an increase in numbers or to replace existing Chinooks?

Geoffrey Roach
Geoffrey Roach
1 month ago

I don’t think squadron numbers will increase so I would guess supplementary aircraft, but I don’t mind being wrong…

Pompeyblokeinoxford
Pompeyblokeinoxford
1 month ago
Reply to  Geoffrey Roach

These are to replace some of 5he earlier aircraft, some from the late 70s.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago

A bit of both I think, we already operate a sizable Chinook fleet, but replacing the early examples with new machines, increases availability and capability.

Last edited 1 month ago by John Clark
RobW
RobW
1 month ago

9 are being retired – it was stated in the recent Command paper that they would go and be replaced by 14 new ones. An uplift in numbers! (pun intended).

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
1 month ago
Reply to  RobW

I read it as 14 being replaced.

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
1 month ago

They are direct replacements for 14 of the Older ones.

Christopher Kent
Christopher Kent
1 month ago

It’s to replace some of the older fleet thats been in service since the 80/90s

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

Replacing older ones, like “BN”

The RAF does not have the people or squadrons to operate the fleet we have ( around 60 ) so adding more makes no sense.

Fedaykin
Fedaykin
1 month ago

Indeed, Bravo November has long been earmarked for the RAF Museum by all accounts. I hope she goes to Cosford rather than Hendon as the latter is rather a dark hole and already has a fake BN display.

Ian Skinner
Ian Skinner
1 month ago
Reply to  Fedaykin

Hendon needs some new aircraft, it has been royally stripped of them following the recent revamp.

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago
Reply to  Fedaykin

That aircraft was a US Army helicopter. If you catch the fuselage in the right light you can still US Army writing under the paint.

Fedaykin
Fedaykin
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Once the RAF Museum takes possession of ZA718 the actual ‘Bravo November’ it would be nice if 83-24104 was restored to her Vietnam War colours, she is a combat veteran herself and received small arms damage when operating with the 180th Aviation Company.

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago

They will be a like for like replacement. All the 80’s bought versions will be replaced.

John Hartley
John Hartley
1 month ago

Are these block II with the new blades & uprated engines or have we bought the last of the old runout model?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

Great news.

But first in 2026, and reductions I assume first. And for the life of me how are they so expensive?

I appreciate the contract will include spares, support, and so on.

James
James
1 month ago

Was thinking the same the price is eye watering, we must also have a ton of spares laid about from decades of using them!?

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  James

Or maybe not.

One of the ways budgets were trimmed post 2010 was not buying stocks of spares…….maybe this is fixing that too?

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago

And maybe filling up the stores parts bins for the ones in service too?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

Hope so.

geoff
geoff
1 month ago

Hi Daniele. I tried to find the purchase price of the Wessex’s from the 60’s to compare but could not trace online. They were probably about 100 000 pounds a piece if that!! Inflation and technology for you. btw I see your weather in the UK is not the best at present. We are in early WINTER😄-Google Durban 10 day forecast-Saturday it will hit 30 degrees! one of the compensations for our other troubles in South Africa!
Cheers my friend

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  geoff

Regards geoff! Enjoy. Well earned

Peter S
Peter S
1 month ago

Bloomberg reports that the contract includes engines ( you would hope so!) machine guns, radar and missile jamming systems. Even so, the price looks very high compared with other recent sales. Delivery has also been slowed compared with original plans.
The delay, like that of F35 delivery and the snail like pace of Boxer and Ajax deliveries, confirm just how big the shortfall in the equipment budget had become.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter S

In US government procurement methodology engines are usually a separate contract to the helicopter/aircraft, its why the headline price of US aircraft often look cheaper than international equivalents.

Peter S
Peter S
1 month ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Yes I forgot that. F35 prices are often given by LM without engines or software. £100m apiece is a high price for what is basically a 60 year old design.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter S

Its a Block II, for Block II Boeing basically went back to the drawing board and updated all the drivetrain, airframe and rotor components to modern designs/materials. Its got about 10% improved performance in every category compared to the previous version.

Paul T
Paul T
1 month ago
Reply to  Watcherzero
The Artist Formerly Known as Los Pollos Chicken
The Artist Formerly Known as Los Pollos Chicken
1 month ago

I read of our current fleet 38 are being upgraded to latest HC6A so the additional 14 looks like the fleet will settle at 52. This seems a more than adequate number given the critical point made already by the D man that we don’t have the man power to increase squadron numbers.

All in all I’d say no bad ,good news

👍🏻🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🇬🇧

Blue Fuzz
Blue Fuzz
1 month ago

Your figures don’t seem to account for the 8 SF HC5 (upgraded HC3). Add the 38 HC6A you mention and the 14 future airframes and the total becomes 60, not 52.

The Artist Formerly Known as Los Pollos Chicken
The Artist Formerly Known as Los Pollos Chicken
1 month ago
Reply to  Blue Fuzz

Well that’s even better then , I wasn’t sure if the 8 that sat around for years in a hanger that were part of a ballsed up mod job were included in the 38 or separate?. But if your telling me I didn’t include them then happy days 60 is the magic number 👍🏻

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🇬🇧

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago

Yes, they were the Mk3s. Which were Model Ds with fat tanks. We really wanted the SF Model E, but couldn’t afford it, so went for the Aldi special.

After all the fixes and upgrades, they are being used operationally in Mali, where the additional range the “fat tanks” provide is really helpful.

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah
1 month ago

It puts the cost of upgrading the Challengers into perspective!!
I fully agree with the person who said we should by buying Ospreys !!

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

Personally I don’t get buying Ospreys really I’d Rather leave them to the US and just how much would they cost anyway ?

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

Agreed. If we absolutely have to have tiltrotor, lets wait for something better than Osprey to come out.

Jay R
Jay R
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

The Osprey makes the Chinook seem obsolete. You only have to see an Osprey fly, it is a simply a revelation. But the Chinook still does the job a tried and tested design.

David
David
1 month ago

Can we flog the old ones to the French who rely on us for lift?

The Baltic States could do with this asset as well.

julian1
julian1
1 month ago
Reply to  David

The french have already ordered some to fill this gap

heroic
heroic
22 days ago
Reply to  David

Fair shout.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
1 month ago

Great news. Chinooks are a real feather in our cap that sets us head and shoulders above our contemporaries

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
1 month ago

Yes, Our Choppers are Bigger than theirs !

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
1 month ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

Seems trivial until you look at the French being unable to move their heavy materiel around the battlefield in Mali due to their lack of heavy lift capability

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
1 month ago

Yes It’s been a serious problem for them that’s for sure. I believe our mix of Merlin, Chinook, Puma and to a degree Wildcat Helicopters and the C130, C17 and Atlas are a cracking combination. Would be nice to add to the numbers though, as always !

Herodotus
Herodotus
1 month ago

Nearly been goosed by a Chinook. Cloud base is really low and hammering with rain, a Chinook flying by the seat of its pants burst over the top of the houses at the end of my village. Never seen one that low that wasn’t coming in to land….impressive machine!

DMcC
DMcC
1 month ago
Reply to  Herodotus

They are certainly impressive close up, the platform in the North Sea I worked on was often used by the military for training. Chinooks coming in skimming the sea, then flying almost vertical to reach the helideck, hovering over the helideck and special forces abseiling to the deck. It was always impressive to watch and gave us something to break up a mundane day.

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Herodotus

Lol, I just thought your post was really funny, It’s the Humour content that made me post the emoji …. You can always use the Flag Feature now if you want, It’s a bit like the Downvote one that you really liked. 😎

Herodotus
Herodotus
1 month ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

Oh I have, and I am sure that you and a couple of others are only too aware of it! I will use it again if you libel me!

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
1 month ago
Reply to  Herodotus

Admin, I have to say I really like this new Commenting Format Guys and Girls………. You have made a great difference to this Public Site. A big Thumbs up to you all. 😀

Lisa West (Comment Moderator)
Lisa West (Comment Moderator)
1 month ago
Reply to  Captain P Wash

As long as people follow the rules listed on our website, they’re free to engage as they please.

Challenger
Challenger
1 month ago

The latest reporting is that an additional 9 Chinooks will also be retired taking the overall fleet down to 51.

As fantastically useful as Chinooks are it does seem odd to me that we’re spending that much money on keeping a fairly large fleet in operation.

We’re post Afghanistan with little appetite to embark on that kind of prolonged and intense deployment again. Does the RAF need 50+ cabs to equip it’s 3 squadrons when other branches of the service will struggle to meet commitments with just 3 Wedgetail and 9 Poseidon (for example!).

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Challenger

Well if 18 and 27 have around a dozen each and 7 has probably more than 12 given the SFF, plus half dozen in the OCU ( 28 sqn ) that is already 46. Add those in maintenance, reserve, or on trials that number seems not unreasonable.

Challenger
Challenger
1 month ago

Are there any sources to confirm the 3 squadrons have 12+ Chinooks? 12 still seems to be the rouge benchmark for the fast jet squadrons but the transport and ISTAR units all operate with less and I had it in my head that the Chinook and Puma ones operate with something like 8 apiece.

There’s a couple permanently stationed in The Falklands but I doubt the OCU has as many as 6.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Challenger

Morning. There are HMG assets reports, whether they detail exact squadron numbers I’m uncertain. My info came from the usual books, some dated admittedly. Just looked at the database I keep on orbats and infrastructure, and it muddies the waters further in that my latest entries on Chinook force numbers ( don’t even remember when I entered the figures ) gives 7 Sqn 11. 18 Sqn 10. 27 Sqn 9. 28 Sqn 6. I thought the MPA Chinooks were withdrawn a few years ago and only contractor helis down there now. The plot thickens! I’m just pleased the RAF has… Read more »

Challenger
Challenger
1 month ago

Thanks for that. I stand corrected!

The single remaining Chinook was withdrawn from MPA around 2007 when Afghanistan was heating up but 2 were deployed back down there a few years ago now, I think off the back of SAR being privatised leaving no RAF helicopters in residence.

Still means there’s approximately 38 air-frames active so a dozen spares for a total fleet of 50 sounds about right…..which is pretty much what they are aiming for!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Challenger

You don’t stand corrected mate, my data might well be cobblers! I update it from various sources and it may well be out of date or plain wrong. Would be interesting to know for sure myself.

Whatever, we have a decent number of this asset at least.