The U.S. Department of State has approved a possible $3.5 billion sale of 16 H-47 Chinook helicopters to the United Kingdom, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said on Friday.
The U.K. government has requested 16 H-47 Chinook Extended Range helicopters to provide a heavy lift rotary wing capability able to execute missions in extreme environments across a full range of military operations, the DSCA said in a Friday, October 20 release.
The proposed sale includes 36 installed and spare T-55-GA-714A engines, 48 GPS units, 20 common missile warning systems and additional equipment, spares and support.
The U.K. is also requesting 40 M-134D-T mini guns and 40 M240H machine guns.
The request also includes mission planning equipment and support, project management, technical and maintenance support, and U.S. government and contractor engineering and logistics support services.
Boeing is the principal contractor and implementation of the proposed sale will requre 29-32 U.S. government personnel and 26 contractors assigned to the U.K., DSCA said.
The U.K.’s HC Chinooks are based on the CH-47, a designation that has never been used by the RAF.
In December 2015, Boeing delivered the 14th Mk6 Chinook to the U.K. Royal Air Force, growing its fleet to 60 aircraft. The RAF’s current operational fleet includes the Mk6 and Mk4 aircraft. The Mk3 “fat tank” extended-range helicopters have been upgraded to a glass cockpit configuration designed Mk5.
The RAF’s Mk4 aircraft are due to undergo modifications to incorporate the Digital Automatic Flight Control System seen on the Mk6 variant. They will be designated Mk6A and are expended to extend the U.K.’s Chinook capability to 2040.
The RAF has operated the Chinook in every major NATO operation since 1980, and uses the helicopter for air assault, troop transport and medical missions.
The RAF is due to retire its Puma medium lift helicopters in March 2025.
In August, the U.K. Ministry of Defence announced that its three RAF helicopters in Mali were fully operational and supporting France’s Operation Barkhane counter-terrorism mission.
Prime Minister Theresa May promised French President Emmanuel Macron that the U.K. would step up its support for France’s Operation Barkhane, which has been battling jihadist groups across the Sahel region since 2014.
May said in January that although Britain was preparing to leave the E.U., “this does not mean that the U.K. is leaving Europe,” stressing Britain’s commitment to its cooperation with France in the area of defense.