Britain orders 14 Boeing Chinooks in £1bn deal

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Britain announced Monday it has ordered 14 new Chinook helicopters from US aerospace and defence giant Boeing at a cost of £1.0 billion ($1.65 billion, 1.1 billion euros).

Considered as the Royal Air Force's workhorse, the heavy lift choppers have served in theatres such as the Falklands War, Iraq and Afghanistan. The versatile aircraft can transport up to 40 men or 10 tonnes of cargo.

The new order will take Britain's Chinook fleet to 60. All of the 14 new helicopters should be fully operational by 2017.

"These additional helicopters will significantly enhance our existing heavy lift helicopter capability," Defence Secretary Liam Fox said.

"This fleet will support our frontline troops in current and future operations for decades to come."

The new Mark 6 Chinooks will feature a digital flight control system making them easier to operate in tough conditions, such as the hot and dusty environments encountered in Afghanistan where Britain has 9,500 troops stationed.

© 2011 AFP

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