RAF Chinooks And C-17 Globemaster Fleet Set For Nearly £400m Investment

The UK's C-17 fleet will see improvements to its airlift capability while the Chinooks will become harder to detect by adversaries.

The RAF is set to be boosted by an investment of nearly £400m for two of its vital assets – the C-17 Globemaster aircraft and the CH-47 Chinook helicopter.

The UK's C-17 fleet, which recently played a key role in the UK's evacuation from Afghanistan, will receive a £324m investment.

This will see the aircraft get upgraded software and hardware to improve airlift capability as part of a contract with the US Air Force.

And the UK's fleet of Mk5 and Mk6 Chinook helicopters will get state-of-the-art defence systems, making the aircraft harder to detect by adversaries, as part of a £64m contract with Boeing Defence UK.

Jeremy Quin, Minister for Defence Procurement, said the investment ensures the RAF's aircraft "are equipped with cutting-edge technology to face a myriad of emerging threats".

"Whether evacuating people in Kabul, transporting people to hospital during COVID-19 or providing crucial logistics on the battlefield, the C-17 and Chinook provide an invaluable service to our Armed Forces across the globe," he said.

The UK's C-17 Globemaster fleet recently played a key role in the UK's evacuation from Afghanistan (Picture: RAF).

The five-and-a-half-year C-17 contract continues the support for the aircraft under the 'Virtual Fleet' concept – where all nine operating nations have access to a world-class support solution.

It will include enhancements to the 'Beyond Line of Sight' satellite-enabled communication equipment.

It will also include a wider field of view via the 'Head-Up Display' in the cockpit to help increase pilot situational awareness, as well as widening the scope of the current free-fall parachuting capability.

The five-year Chinook contract will see the installation of state-of-the-art Infra-Red Suppression Systems (IRSS) across some of the fleet.

This will offer better protection from threats posed by new missile systems using the heat (infra-red) signature of the aircraft to target.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, Chief of the Air Staff, said he was "delighted with the introduction of these state-of-the-art upgrades". 

"These measures will ensure our Chinook and Globemaster squadrons can operate wherever and whenever needed across the globe," he added.

Cover image: Two Chinook helicopters (Picture: RAF).