Following the 1966 strategic review of Defence expenditure, which resulted in the decision to procure some models off the shelf from the USA to reduce cost and delivery horizon - and the tactical reality of the poor performance of the Belvedere, the RAF ordered 15 CH-47B Chinooks as Belvedere replacements in Mar 1967. Serials were to be XV841 to XV855. The order was cancelled in Nov 1967 before any could be built or delivered.
RAF had two false-starts in acquiring the Chinook as a medium/heavy lift helicopter. Initial order for 33 CH-47Cs placed Feb 1978 and these entered service as the Chinook HC.1 in Dec 1980 at RAF Odiham, home of the RAF Support Helicopter Force. Further 8 ordered partly to replace attrition, which arrived during 1984. The HC.1 were upgraded with change from metal to glass fibre rotor blades to HC.1Bs.
32 remaining HC.1 and HC.1B were returned to Philadelphia for upgrade to CH-47D standard (As Boeing Model 414), which included the controversial FADEC (Full Authority Digital Electronic Control) over the twin Lycoming T55-L-712F engines and the upgraded Chinook HC.2s began to appear in May 1993. Difficulties caused primarily by the FADEC system delayed service entry until Feb 1994 and on 2 Jun 1994 a catastrophic accident in Scotland caused a public outcry. Major reviews followed. A further 3 HC.2 airframes were ordered in 1995.
6 more CH-47Ds with a strengthened forward fuselage were ordered in 1995 and delivered in 1997 as the Chinook HC.2A
8 MH-47E equivalents were ordered in 1995 in an attempt to regularise the practice of removing airframes from a pool and making ad hoc modifications for special missions. The Chinook HC.3 was available in 1998 but despite reasonable performance tests has been delayed in entry to service, through deterioration in Boeing storage, difficulties with a new self defence system and a cockpit upgrade. Contractual issues with the suppliers had left these Chinooks unusable and a programme to revert their modifications closer to the state of the HC.2/2A fleet was instigated in Dec 2007 with QinetiQ and GE Aviation Systems. The first flight of a reverted Chinook Mk.3 was completed on 6 Jun 2009 at Boscombe Down.
After several half-hearted announcements about acquiring more helicopters by various governments, the MoD declared an order in 2009 for 24 Boeing CH-47Fs (subsequently reduced to 14 in Aug 2011), to supplement the existing fleet and make up for attrition. They are planned to enter RAF service as the Chinook HC.6 in 2017. In a rare rash of commonality (as far as Chinook procurement is concerned) the new model is to have the same glass cockpit software that is being retrofitted to the HC.2, HC.2A and HC.3 in the existing fleet (c 46 airframes under Project Julius, to become known as Chinook HC.4).
Vector 35 Years Servicing the Chinook, 03-Oct-17 : Helitech 2017 Vector Aerospace, MRO services provider, celebrating 35th anniversary servicing the RAF Chinook helicopter at Fleetlands, Gosport and Almondbank
|Years||Units||bold : Current base of the Unit|
|1986/95||78 squadron|| RAF Mount Pleasant|
|1983/86||1310 Flt|| Port San Carlos|
|1982/94||7 squadron|| King Khaled Air Base|
|1981/95||18 squadron|| Laarbruch / Niederrhein|
King Khaled Air Base
|1980/93||240 operational conversion unit|| King Khaled Air Base|
|AO Diligence class|