The UK Royal Air Force has taken delivery of the first three Boeing CH-47 Chinook HC6 helicopters from an order for 14 of the heavy-lift transport type.
Based at RAF Odiham in Hampshire, the aircraft arrived on 19 December 2013, says the UK Ministry of Defence. They will enter service with the RAF in early 2014 with the start of training activities, it says. The remainder of the Chinooks "are on schedule to be delivered by the end of 2015", adds the ministry.
Three squadrons flying the CH-47 are stationed at Odiham - 18B Sqn, 27 Sqn and lastly 7 Sqn, which operates in support of UK special forces. Although rumours have suggested the new Chinooks will be allocated to the latter unit, the MoD says "no decisions have yet been finalised regarding which squadrons will receive the new aircraft".
The UK's HC6 derivative of the Chinook is being produced with a Thales-sourced cockpit developed for the modernisation of the RAF's legacy fleet under an effort dubbed Project Julius. This will bring the RAF's previous 44 HC2/2A and HC3-standard aircraft to a common HC4 avionics configuration.