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Retirement of 'Bravo November‘ heralds transfer of older UK Chinooks

Seen during operations in Afghanistan, 'Bravo November‘ is the first of nine older Chinooks that the UK is to swap out for newer models in the coming years. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

The retirement of ‘Bravo November' earlier in March marked the start of the United Kingdom's plan to swap out some of its earliest Chinook heavy-lift transport helicopters with newbuild platforms in the coming years.

With the iconic ‘Bravo November' delivered to the Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum in Cosford, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) told Janes on 21 March that it intends to withdraw a further eight of the oldest-model Chinooks it first received in 1981, with the introduction of 14 of the latest-model helicopters in the coming years.

“The majority of the oldest Chinook aircraft, including those in the original procurement from the 1980s, were converted from Mk4 to Mk6A. Nine of these older Mk4/6A aircraft will be withdrawn from service,” the MoD said. “As part of the modernisation process, there is also a procurement programme running for acquisition of 14 new Chinook H-47(ER) aircraft. Once these enter service there will be a one-for-one retirement of in-service Chinook aircraft when the new extended range aircraft are delivered. As such, after the delivery of 14 H-47(ER), the Chinook Departmental Fleet will still be 51 aircraft.”

As noted by the MoD in its statement, while the retirement of ‘Bravo November' (serial number ZA718) marks the beginning of the transfer process, the withdrawal of the eight remaining early-model Chinooks will not happen until the new H-47 Extended Range (ER) helicopters begin arriving from 2026. The transfer process will continue until the arrival of the last H-47(ER) helicopter in 2030.

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