Boeing UK Rotorcraft Support team has begun flight testing the first Chinook mk4 helicopter for the Royal Air Force (RAF) as part of the Project Julius mk4 modernisation programme.

Project Julius will modernise the current Royal Air Force Chinook fleet and includes modification of 38 mk2/2A into mk4/4A configuration and eight mk3 Chinooks into the mk5 configuration.

The modification for the mk4/4A and mk5 aircraft includes the Thales TopDeck cockpit, the addition of a third crew-member seat, and an update of airworthiness and safety certification and qualification for the modernised Chinook.

Boeing UK Rotorcraft Support managing director David Pitchforth said the first modified Julius Chinook helicopters were expected to be available before the end of 2011.

“The entire mk2 fleet will be fitted with the Julius cockpit by early 2015, followed by mk2A and mk3 modifications by 2015 and 2016, respectively,” he added.