14 new Chinook helicopters for the RAF

The Royal Air Force will receive 14 new Chinook helicopters in a £1 billion contract, the Ministry of Defence announced today.

The deal, with American firm Boeing, will bring the total force of the heavy lift choppers to 60 - the biggest capability in Europe.

The aircraft are vital to Nato operations in Afghanistan, offering support to both British and other nations' forces.

The contract includes development, building and five years of support.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox announced the extra machines on a visit to RAF Odiham in Hampshire where the Chinook force is based.

He also met personnel recently returned from Afghanistan.

"This Government is committed to delivering a top class equipment programme that is properly funded," he said.

He added the Government had brought "reality" to the defence budget which can now deliver real equipment.