The British Royal Air Force (RAF) is set to receive a nearly £400m investment from the government to upgrade the capabilities of its C-17 Globemaster aircraft and CH-47 Chinook helicopter fleets.
Around £324m will be invested to modernise software and hardware components of the UK’s C-17 fleet in order to boost airlift capability as part of a contract with the US Air Force (USAF).
The Mk5 and Mk6 Chinook helicopters will be equipped with defensive systems as part of a £64m contract with Boeing Defence UK.
UK Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin said: “Whether evacuating people in Kabul, transporting people to hospital during Covid-19 or providing crucial logistics on the battlefield, the C-17 and Chinook provide an invaluable service to our armed forces across the globe.
“This investment ensures our aircraft are equipped with cutting-edge technology to face a myriad of emerging threats from adversaries.”
The five-and-a-half-year C-17 contract, negotiated by Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), will involve enhancing the ‘Beyond Line of Sight’ satellite-enabled communication equipment and increasing the current free-fall parachuting capability.
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Additionally, the ‘Head-Up Display’ in the cockpit will be upgraded to provide C-17 pilots with a wider field of view, increasing situational awareness.
DE&S is also managing the five-year Chinook helicopter contract, under which, some of the units will be equipped with Infra-Red Suppression Systems (IRSS).
The technology will provide the helicopters with increased protection from new missile systems that use heat (infra-red) signature of the aircraft to target.
Both the contracts will support around 200 jobs across the UK.
RAF Chief of the Air Staff air chief marshal Mike Wigston said: “These measures will ensure our Chinook and Globemaster squadrons can operate wherever and whenever needed across the globe.”
Recently, the UK selected RAF Waddington air station as the home of the Protector International Training Centre.