US approves possible Chinook sale to RAF

THE US has granted approval for the UK’s long-expected procurement of additional CH-47F Block II heavy-lift helicopters.
The ratification covers the potential sale of up to 16 Chinooks in an extended-range configuration and was outlined in a Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notification on October 19.
RAF Chinook [Khalem Chapman]
A Royal Air Force Boeing CH-47F Chinook HC.6A, serial ZD983, displays at the RAF Cosford Airshow 2018. The helicopter wore an 'RAF 100' sticker to celebrate the centenary of the UK air arm. Khalem Chapman

The proposed Foreign Military Sale deal is valued at $3.5bn and includes training and support. The DSCA announcement also specifies weapons, including 7.62mm M134D-T Miniguns and M240H machine guns, suggesting the helicopters would be delivered in a special forces configuration similar to the US Army’s MH-47G. They would also feature an extensive countermeasures suite, multi-mode radar and ‘fat’ extended-range fuel tanks.

The RAF has a requirement for additional Chinooks to replace some of the oldest examples in service, including airframes that are now almost 40 years old.

The RAF currently operates 60 Chinooks, with the most recent 14 HC6 versions originating from a 2011 order and delivered between December 2013 and December 2015.

Eight older, long-range HC3R models were upgraded with new avionics to the HC5 standard beginning in March last year.