The UK has agreed to purchase 14 Chinook CH-47 (ER) heavy-lift helicopters from the US via a foreign military sales agreement, worth £1.4bn. Deliveries are scheduled to start in 2026, where the new helicopters will be based at RAF Odiham, the home of the UK’s Chinook fleet.
Able to fly at speed of up to 300kph (186mph), the CH-47 (ER) will feature a digital automatic flight control system to allow pilots to hover in areas of limited visibility and a modernised airframe to increase stability and survivability. The Chinook can operate in a range of environments, from the desert to the arctic, and transport up to 55 personnel or ten tonnes of cargo.
Introduced into UK service in 1981, the 40th anniversary of the first Chinook was recently marked with a new commemorative colour scheme. A May 13 release from the UK MOD stated that the oldest of fleet will be retired, enabling investment in the new aircraft to modernise the UK heavy lift capability.
In addition to traditional warfighting roles, the Chinook has supported a wide variety of specialist tasks, including the military aid to the civil authorities. Most recently, it was part of the Joint Helicopter Aviation Task Force which transported NHS paramedics, equipment and patients during peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.