As part of a significant re-balancing of Britain’s immediate-term defense spending, Gordon Brown’s Labour Party government planned to buy 10 new CH-47 Chinook helicopters for delivery in 2012-2013, with the intent to buy another 12 Chinooks later. The RAF’s Chinook fleet would increase in size from 48 – 70 airframes, including 8 “Mk3 Chinooks” which will finally enter service after a costly and controversial program, plus replacements for 2 Chinooks destroyed during operations.
Those plans survived mostly intact after the new coalition government replaced Labour. The new Chinooks will displace the Medium Helicopter Replacement project, which aimed to field successors to 46 or so H-3 Sea Kings that are still operated by the British Army and Royal Navy, as well as Britain’s 34 Puma HC1 medium helicopters when that type goes out of service in 2022. Britain’s decisions to buy the Chinooks, and make a number of other immediate adjustments to planned defense spending, stemmed from 2 difficult imperatives facing its defense establishment.