Image ID 2KB4RAC Home Secretary Suella Braverman arrives in a Chinook helicopter 03112022 CREDIT PA images Alamy Stock Photo.jpg
Home Secretary Suella Braverman arrives in a Chinook helicopter for a visit to the Manston immigration short-term holding facility (Picture: PA Images/ Alamy Stock Photo).
Aircraft

Downing Street defends Home Secretary's use of Chinook during Kent visit

Image ID 2KB4RAC Home Secretary Suella Braverman arrives in a Chinook helicopter 03112022 CREDIT PA images Alamy Stock Photo.jpg
Home Secretary Suella Braverman arrives in a Chinook helicopter for a visit to the Manston immigration short-term holding facility (Picture: PA Images/ Alamy Stock Photo).

Downing Street has defended the Home Secretary's use of a military helicopter during her visit to Kent.

Suella Braverman arrived at the Manston migrant holding centre near Ramsgate on Thursday in a Chinook, having earlier visited Dover to view the Western Jet Foil immigration facility and meet the Coastguard.

The distance between Dover and Manston is about 20 miles by road and could take around 40 minutes to drive.

According to defence analysts writing for the UK Defence Journal, a Chinook costs about £3,500 per hour to fly.

A Chinook's maximum speed is 302km per hour (about 187mph), according to its manufacturer, Boeing.

The Home Office said the flight left the Dover coastguard's headquarters at 1:25 pm and touched down at Manston just after 2 pm.

According to the Home Office, the rest of the day's journeys were made by car.

The helicopter – which was on standby for operations – would have been used for a higher priority task instead if one materialised, the department stressed.

Watch: In April a 'Celebrity Chinook' went on display after 40 years of RAF service.

A government spokeswoman said: "The Home Secretary was in Dover to receive an update on operations on the ground.

"That obviously involved operations in the Channel. She travelled on a military aircraft to see the area of operations at sea."

"As part of the Home Secretary's efforts to tackle vile people smuggling in the Channel, the Home Secretary was briefed by Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, Dan O'Mahoney in Dover," a Home Office spokesman added.

"The Home Secretary then travelled in a military aircraft with Mr O'Mahoney to get a view of operations in the Channel first hand."