The UK Royal Air Force is on schedule to take delivery of its first CH-47 Chinook HC6 transport helicopter from a 14-aircraft order before the end of this year, a senior Boeing official says.
Speaking at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire on 20 July, Chuck Dabundo, Boeing vice-president in charge of the CH-47 programme, said the UK's first three aircraft are now involved in testing in the USA. One of these is being flown in Mesa, Arizona, with another flying at NAS Patuxent River in Maryland, where the third is also undergoing ground-based electromagnetic testing. "We are tracking well on the programme," Dabundo says.
First flown in March 2013 (above), the UK's HC6 derivative of the Chinook is being produced with a Thales-sourced cockpit developed for a legacy fleet modernisation effort dubbed Project Julius. The latter is to bring the RAF's previous 44 HC2/2A and HC3-standard aircraft to a common HC4 avionics configuration. The HC6 model, by contrast, introduces new equipment such as a digital automatic flight control system, Dabundo says.
The RAF's legacy fleet of Chinook HC2/2As are being upgraded
Boeing continues to seek new international orders for its CH-47, with Dabundo noting that its recent multi-year procurement deal with the US Department of Defense for 155 examples, plus 60 options, "gives us a nice stable base to build on for the next five years."