The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) will receive 14 new CH-47 Chinook helicopters, taking the UK’s overall number of Chinooks to 60.

The £1bn ($1.64bn) Ministry of Defence (MoD) contract, which forms part of the UK’s strategic helicopter vision to modernise its helicopter force structure, includes development, manufacture, and the first five years of support to the new Chinooks.

The Boeing CH-47 mk6 helicopters will feature a new monolithic airframe with UK-specific avionics, a digital flight control system, forward-looking infrared radar, aircraft defensive systems, and interoperable communication and navigation equipment.

UK Secretary of State for Defence Liam Fox said the additional helicopters would significantly enhance the RAF’s existing heavy-lift helicopter capability.

“This fleet will support our frontline troops in current and future operations for decades to come,” he added.

The RAF will receive the first aircraft for initial trials and testing in 2013 and it will enter service in May 2014, with deliveries scheduled to complete by the end of 2015.

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Three helicopters will be ready for operational deployment in early 2015 and all 14 will be fully operational by early 2017.