Chinook is a tandem-rotored, twin engined medium-lift helicopter and
first entered service with the RAF in 1982.
It has a crew of four (pilot, navigator and 2 x crewmen) and is capable
of carrying 45 fully equipped troops or a variety of heavy loads up
to approximately 10 tons.
In the ferry configuration with internally mounted fuel tanks, the Chinook's range is over 1,600 km (1,000 miles). In the medical evacuation role the aircraft can carry 24 stretchers.
RAF Chinook aircraft have recently been upgraded to the HC2 standard. The first of the 32 aircraft being upgraded was delivered to the RAF in the Spring of 1993, with the remaining aircraft delivered during 1996. The HC2 upgrade, for which a total of £145 million was allocated, allows for the aircraft to be modified to the US CH-47D standard with some extra enhancements. These enhancements include fitting infra-red jammers, missile approach warning indicators, chaff and flare dispensers, a long-range fuel system and machine gun mountings.
This is a rugged and
reliable aircraft. During the Falklands War reports suggest that,
at one stage, 80 fully equipped troops were carried in one lift and,
during a Gulf War mission, a single Chinook carried 110 Iraqi POWs.
The Chinook mid-life update will significantly enhance the RAF's ability
to support the land forces during the next 25 years.
On average, 27 of 31 aircraft have been available for front-line service at any one time, a figure reflecting the need for planned maintenance and servicing. On 9 March 1995, the UK MoD announced a purchase of a further 14 x Chinooks and a separate buy of 22 x EH 101 (Merlin) . The contract for the 14 x Chinooks was signed in early September 1995 at a price of £240 million (US$365), resulting in a possible unit cost of £17 million per aircraft.
During 2003 the Chinook
Night Enhancement Package (NEP) was installed in the HC2 fleet. The
NEP was based upon experience gained during operations in Afghanistan
in 2001 and allows Chinook aircraft to operate at night and in very
low-light conditions, often at the limit of their capabilities.
In service with: