The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) is operating the first upgraded Mk4 Chinook transport helicopter to support British military missions in Afghanistan.
The deployment follows UK-based mission specific training of the aircrew, followed by environmental and mission specific training at the US Naval Air Facility El Centro, which is located in California, US, in October/November 2012, as reported by Shephard Media.
Developed as part of the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Julius programme, the Mk4 Chinook is a modified version of RAF’s CH-47 Chinook helicopter and achieved initial operational capability (IOC) in June 2012.
The aircraft was also operated by the air force during the 2012 London Olympics Games.
RAF Odiham station commander and RAF Chinook Force commander group captain Dom Toriati said the deployment of the first helicopter is a result of efforts by organisations involved in the Julius programme.
”All the agencies involved in this programme have worked hard to help de-risk and produce a credible support and airworthiness solution which everyone could sign-up to and helped deliver the Chinook Mk4 into theatre,” Toriati added.
”Project Julius has given us an integrated solution which satisfied the ergonomics and human machine interface (HMI) that the previous analogue cockpit didn’t and also provided a capability we can maintain safely which was one of the key requirements."
Managed by Boeing, the Julius programme covers upgrade of 38 Mk2/2A Chinooks into the Mk4/4A configuration alongside eight Mk3 Chinooks into the Mk5 configuration.
Upgrades include the introduction of the Thales TopDeck cockpit to help enhance the pilot’s situational awareness, four new multifunction displays, a digital moving map, a tablet-based electronic flight bag, updated communications interfaces, as well as a third crew-member seat.
The Mk2 fleet modification is scheduled to be completed in early 2015, followed by Mk3 modifications by 2016.
Image: The UK Royal Air Force’s first modified Mk4 Chinook helicopter during its flight testing in Hampshire, UK. Photo: courtesy and copyright of Boeing.