Government to order up to 120 Chinook helicopters to deploy in Afghanistan

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The Independent Online

The Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth, is expected to announce a £3.5bn helicopter building programme early this week.

The Vision 2020 document will detail plans for 120 aircraft to be ordered over a 10-year period. A long-delayed plan to purchase medium-lift helicopters, which can carry up to 25 people, is expected to be scrapped. Instead, the Ministry of Defence will order up to 30 Chinooks, the helicopter that has been heavily deployed in Afghanistan, from Boeing. These will be purchased quickly to help British troops in the war-torn country.

Defence minister Baroness Taylor told the House of Lords on 12 November that "there is an opportunity to replace some of our older types [of helicopter] earlier than planned".

The review had "focused on ensuring that continued delivery on operations, increasing the percentage of our fleet that can operate effectively in the harsh conditions that we are experiencing in Afghanistan," she said.