Use of the Royal Air Force's upgraded Boeing CH-47 Chinook HC4 transport helicopters will soon include the type's first combat commitment, the UK Ministry of Defence has confirmed.
"Operational training has begun in the US on the improved Chinook Mk4 aircraft in preparation for its first deployment to Afghanistan," says an article in the Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) organisation's Desider publication.
The subject of a wide-ranging Project "Julius" upgrade to modify the RAF's existing Chinook HC2/2As, the new-standard aircraft achieved initial operating capability status in June, DE&S says. Seven modified Chinooks have been delivered so far, with another 12 having been inducted into the programme, it adds.
The UK currently flies Chinook HC2/2As in Afghanistan
Benefits of the HC4 configuration include the fleet-wide use of more powerful Honeywell T55-714 engines, glass cockpit avionics, enhanced crew situational awareness, and additional aircraft survivability features, the MoD says.
In addition to the 46-aircraft upgrade, the RAF is also acquiring 14 new-build Chinook HC6 transports from Boeing. Deliveries are due to start in 2015.