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UK announces nearly GBP400 to enhance RAF airlift capabilities

The MoD has announced an investment of nearly GBP400 million in the RAF's heavy airlift capabilities, which includes defensive aids upgrades for a portion of the Chinook helicopter fleet. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

The United Kingdom has announced almost GBP400 million (USD553 million) in additional funding to boost the heavy airlift capabilities of the Royal Air Force (RAF).

The investment announced by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on 12 September covers enhancements to the RAF's rotary- and fixed-wing heavy transport fleets, with both the Boeing CH-47 Chinook and Boeing C-17 Globemaster III earmarked for upgrades over the coming five-years.

“The investment builds on commitments outlined in the Defence Command Paper earlier this year, which confirms an operational obligation to both aircraft as part of the Integrated Force 2030 approach. This is further supported by the GBP24 billion increase in defence spending over the next four years, announced by the Prime Minister in November 2020,” the MoD said.

As noted in the announcement, the funding covers enhanced defensive aids for the RAF's fleet of eight Chinook HC5 and 14 HC6 helicopters for GBP64 million. “The five-year Chinook helicopter contract managed by DE&S will see the installation of state-of-the-art Infra-Red Suppression Systems (IRSS) across some of the fleet, offering better protection from threats posed by new missile systems using the heat (infra-red) signature of the aircraft to target. IRSS technology will counter with ‘blanking plates' on the helicopters, which mask the hot components and redirect airflow to cool the exhaust gases, making it more difficult to target,” it said.

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