The United Kingdom is upgrading its fleet of Boeing Chinook HC4 transport helicopters to bring them up to the new HC6A standard, Jane’s has learned.
The Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) 38 HC4 helicopters are being re-designated HC6A with the replacement of the analogue flight control systems with the Boeing Digital Automatic Flight Control System (DAFCS) over the next 12 months. Under a separate contract, the RAF Chinook fleet is also being equipped with an Airborne Collision Avoidance System (ACAS), which has already achieved an Initial Operating Capability (IOC) on a number of aircraft.
The RAF currently fields 60 Chinook helicopters, comprising 38 HC4 (designated HC2/2A prior to the Project Julius upgrade programme that was completed in March); eight HC5 (previously HC3); and 14 HC6 platforms (delivered as new-builds). Project Julius has helped to provide increased safety and sustainment and performance improvements to the fleet. This process has brought cockpit and engine commonality across the HC4 and HC5 variants, at the same time as bringing them up to roughly the same standard as the HC6 helicopters that began arriving in April 2014.
These HC6 platforms are essentially CH-47F machines that have been equipped with UK-specific equipment, such as the Thales ‘glass cockpit’. These aircraft are already equipped with the DAFCS that forms the basis of the HC4 to HC6A upgrade, improving aircraft handling and stability in more demanding operational environments and helping to increase flight safety in low-light levels and/or degraded visual environments.
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