The UK defense ministry has confirmed its decision to purchase another 14 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters from the US.
According to Blomberg, who first reported the deal, the $2 billion agreement between the UK and the Pentagon would also include engines, machine guns, radar and missile-jamming equipment.
With 60 units in service, the UK is already the second-largest operator of the helicopter type. The largest operator remains the US military, which has been flying different versions of the aircraft for over 50 years.
The UK is buying new Chinooks to replace some of the older airframes in service. The Royal Air force welcomed its first helicopters of the type in 1980, two years before the Falklands War. The new units would be of the H-47 Extended Range (ER) type, which is currently in service in Canada and features improved fuel tanks.
It is worth noting that the US defense department approved a possible sale of a total of 16 Chinooks to the UK back in 2018.
“The delivery schedule and exact costs for the new Chinook helicopters are to be confirmed, but it is expected delivery will be completed before the end of 2030,” the Bloomberg report quoted the UK embassy spokeswoman in Washington as saying.
While the deal is confirmed, the UK appears to be looking to postpone the delivery by up to three years due to the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since the Falklands War in 1982, the UK has used Chinook in every major conflict, seeing action in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq, Afghanistan, most famously in the MERT role, and currently serves in Mali supporting the French in Op BARKHANE. It is destined to stay in service beyond 2040.