MINISTRY OF DEFENCE
News Release (103/2008) issued by The Government News Network on 4
Baroness Ann Taylor has today commented on a report published by
the National Audit Office (NAO) into the MoD's procurement of
eight Chinook Mk3 helicopters for the RAF.
Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Baroness Taylor said:
"The Chinook is the most capable support helicopter in
Afghanistan. Based on operational need, the reversion project will
allow delivery of more Chinooks to theatre in the shortest
time-frame. It is one of several steps being taken to increase
helicopter lift capability for operations including the
acquisition of new state of the art blades for Sea Kings. The
total amount of flying time for all helicopters, including
Chinooks, has increased by a third since March 2007."
In early 2007, the operational imperative to provide additional
helicopters to support operations was recognised and the decision
was taken quickly to convert the Chinook Mk3 aircraft. The project
remains on track in terms of time and budget and is just part of a
package of measures that we are implementing to improve our
helicopter lift capability on operations.
The NAO report acknowledges that:
* The RAF's 40 Chinooks are the MoD's most capable
support helicopters especially in the demanding hot and high
conditions of Afghanistan.
* The MoD's decision to
convert eight Mk3s to the current Mk2 standard means that these
aircraft will be added to the fleet two years earlier than the Fix
to Field programme would have allowed.
* The decision will
result in a largely common cockpit across the Chinook fleet with
improved operational flexibility and lower support costs.
MoD is confident that these aircraft will be delivered by
* In 2007, the MoD took the necessary decisions
rapidly, based on pressing operational need.
* MoD has
equipped some Mk2 Chinooks to fly in more demanding operations in
very low-light conditions, and has plans to upgrade the entire
Chinook fleet with an enhanced cockpit to meet operational needs.
Notes to Editors
1. On 30 March 2007, the Secretary of State for Defence announced
that 14 additional helicopters (acquisition of 6 Danish Merlin and
conversion of 8 Chinook Mk3s) would be made available for military
operations. These additional platforms represent a 25% increase in
the UK's battlefield Merlin fleet and a 20% increase in the
2. The decision on Chinook was taken as it offers the strongest
range/ payload performance in the demanding hot and high
environmental conditions in Afghanistan. Converting the Mk3
aircraft to a Mk2 cockpit standard was the fastest and lowest risk
way to field these aircraft.
3. A Written Ministerial Statement on "Helicopters on
Operations" was laid before the House on 20 May 2008,
detailing the steps taken to improve the provision of battlefield
helicopter capability in Iraq and Afghanistan.
4. Boeing is Prime Contractor for the conversion of the Chinook
Mk3 and has worked closely with the MoD on this programme. The
contract was signed on 14 Dec 07, at a value of $115M.