The first three of 14 Boeing Chinook HC.6 heavy-lift transport helicopters for the Royal Air Force (RAF) have arrived in the UK and will be ready to enter service later in the year, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed to IHS Jane's on 15 January.
The helicopters were delivered from the Philadelphia production plant to the home of the UK Chinook force at RAF Odiham on 19 December 2013. Training on the modernised Chinooks will commence "in the spring", the MoD said, with the remaining 11 helicopters set to be handed over by the end of 2015.
Delivery to the UK of the first batch of helicopters follows the completion of flight trials with the US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River in Maryland in early August.
Essentially the same model helicopter as the CH-47F operated by the US Army, the Chinook HC.6 does feature a number of UK-specific upgrades designed to bring them up to a common standard with the HC.2/2A (to be redesignated HC.4 once all the upgrades have been completed) and HC.3 (HC.5) helicopters already in RAF service. These comprise the Project Julius enhancement to the cockpit and engines, the Project Baker enhancement to the defensive aids suite, and the Project Benic enhancement to the communications systems.
Once all have been delivered, the RAF will have a total Chinook force comprising 38 HC.2/2As (HC.4) eight HC.3s (HC.5), and 14 HC.6 platforms.