Upgraded UK Chinooks set for Afghan debut
By Tim Ripley
Upgraded Royal Air Force (RAF) Boeing Chinook HC.4 transport helicopters are to be deployed to Afghanistan for the first time in December.
The first upgraded helicopters, which feature the newly installed Thales 'Project Julius' part-digital cockpit, and their crews are currently undergoing environmental training at the US Naval Air Facility at El Centro in California ahead of their deployment to theatre.
Technical and certification issues delayed the operational deployment of the Chinook HC.4s by a year, but RAF officers said the helicopters are now performing well and are ready to go on operations.
IHS Jane's understands that after the deployment of the first batch of three Chinook Mk 4s later in 2012, additional helicopters will be dispatched at six monthly intervals until the full force of Chinook HC.2/2A helicopters based in Afghanistan is replaced with the improved machines.
An RAF spokesman told IHS Jane's in early November that "the new [HC].4 fleet will be used over the coming months in Afghanistan, exact time scales will flex to accommodate available transport and qualified crews".175 of 468 words
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