The Thales cockpit is also being fitted on the U.K.’s 14 new Chinook Mk. 6s, which are being built by Boeing in Philadelphia. Three of the new model aircraft are now flying and are undergoing flight-testing in the U.S. The first aircraft is due to be delivered to the U.K. at the end of the year, and Childs is hopeful that the Mk. 6 will be the first aircraft to be delivered to the RAF without having to undergo any testing in the U.K.
The rotorcraft will be awarded an initial release-to-service authority once it is delivered, before a full release-to-service is given by the U.K. Military Aviation Authority. The aircraft are currently being flown on the U.S. civil register and have recently been tested at NAS Patuxent River, Md. The Mk. 6s are variants of the CH-47F, and feature a Digital Automatic Flight Control System (Dafcs). The new aircraft also feature a Cobra fire-suppression system, external rescue hoist and a rotor brake. The U.K. Chinook force has expressed an ambition to refit Dafcs across the entire U.K. fleet, although such a move is likely to come at a cost similar to that of the Project Julius program.
Interestingly, the hangars of the U.K.’s new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers have been modeled to take into account Chinook operations without requiring blade folding. Two Chinooks with unfolded blades can fit onto the ship’s deck lifts. The hangars have also been designed to accommodate the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor.