by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Aug 22, 2011
Britain announced Monday it has ordered 14 new Chinook helicopters from US aerospace and defence giant Boeing at a cost of £1.0 billion ($1.65 billion, 1.1 billion euros).
Considered as the Royal Air Force's workhorse, the transport choppers have served in theatres such as the Falklands War, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The versatile heavy lift aircraft can transport up to 40 men or 10 tonnes of cargo.
Britain already has the largest Chinook fleet in Europe and the order will take it to 60 aircraft. All of the 14 new helicopters should be fully operational by 2017.
The Labour government of former prime minister Gordon Brown was dogged by criticism that British forces in Afghanistan did not have sufficient equipment, particularly troop-carrying helicopters that would avoid soldiers having to travel by bomb-laden roads.
Current Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition claims it was left a £38 billion "black hole" of unfunded defence spending commitments when it took office.
The government has cut the defence budget by eight percent in a bid to curb Britain's huge deficit.
"We have brought reality to the defence budget and can start signing contracts that will deliver real equipment," Defence Secretary Liam Fox said.
"The previous government promised more Chinooks, but never ordered them and never had the money for them. It was just an aspiration.
"These additional helicopters will significantly enhance our existing heavy lift helicopter capability.
"This fleet will support our frontline troops in current and future operations for decades to come."
The new Mark 6 Chinooks will feature a digital flight control system making them easier to operate in tough conditions, such as the hot and dusty environments encountered in Afghanistan where Britain has 9,500 troops stationed.
The RAF should receive the first aircraft for initial trials and testing in 2013 and it should enter service the following year.
Delivery of all 14 helicopters should be complete before 2016. Three should be ready for operational deployment in early 2015 and all 14 should be fully operational by early 2017.
The Boeing deal includes development, manufacture and the first five years of support to the helicopters.
Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.
Argentina mulls higher defense spending
Buenos Aires (UPI) Aug 19, 2011
Argentina has set a five-year program for increased defense acquisitions as part of a long-term government agenda to modernize its armed forces and refurbish the country's outmoded equipment and weapons arsenals. The projected rise in defense expenditure was on the cards after President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner decreed in July an ambitious operation, "North Shield," to combat narc ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|