The British Royal Air Force has announced plans to upgrade its fleet of Chinook support helicopters with enhanced engines and digitised cockpits.

The cockpit enhancements will be carried out by Boeing and Thales while the new engines and cockpits will be installed by Vector Aerospace. The total value of the deal is around £400m.

The more powerful Honeywell 714A engines will provide improved performance in the hot summers and high altitudes of Afghanistan, while the new engines will cut down fuel consumption, extend service intervals and increase the availability of the aircraft on the front line

The £280m cockpit enhancement programme will include extending the fit of the Thales glass cockpit across the entire fleet to improve the capability of the aircraft under low-light conditions.

UK Minister for Defence Equipment and Support Quentin Davies said that Chinook is the cornerstone of RAF helicopter support effort in Afghanistan.

“These improvements will increase its capability and ensure it can play an even more valuable role in supporting our forces and Nato coalition allies in tackling insurgency in Afghanistan,” he said.