The Secretary of State for Defence announced on 18 July that, as a result of the Government’s commitment to a real-terms rise in the equipment budget of 1% after 2015, he had given the go-ahead for the procurement of 14 Chinook helicopters, 12 to expand the fleet and two to replace those lost on operations in Afghanistan in 2009.
I am pleased to be able to confirm that we have now signed a contract with Boeing for their delivery. This will expand the Chinook fleet to a total of 60, which will provide a significant capability lift to the front line. The total value of the procurement including development, manufacture, and support for the first five years is approximately £1 billion.
The first of the new Chinooks will enter into service with the Royal Air Force in May 2014, making an immediate contribution to the operation of the UK Chinook capability and allow more of the mature airframes in the fleet to be available for operations in Afghanistan in 2014 should they be required. All of the new Chinooks will be delivered by December 2015. Three helicopters will be ready for operational deployment in early 2015 and all 14 will be fully operational by early 2017. This significant uplift in helicopter capability is just another in a series of steps we are taking to modernise our armed forces and meet the adaptable posture outlined in the strategic defence and security review.