Boeing has begun flight testing of the first Chinook Mk4 helicopter for the Royal Air Force (RAF). The first flight took place on Dec 9 in Hampshire, England. “Project JULIUS, as the Mk4 program is known, will modernize the current Royal Air Force Chinook fleet – essentially giving us new aircraft,” said Chris White-Horne, Mk4 project team leader for the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence. Project JULIUS will modify 38 Mk2/2A Chinooks into the Mk4/4A configuration and eight Mk3 Chinooks into the Mk5 configuration.
Upgrades include the addition of the Thales TopDeck cockpit display and mission avionic System, which includes four multifunction displays, two stand-by flight displays, updated communications interfaces and two new air data computers. The TopDeck cockpit suite also includes an onboard mission planning system, a ground mission support system and a secure data transfer system.
Project Julius also adds a third crew-member seat in the cockpit and includes an update of Airworthiness & Safety Certification and Qualification for the modernized Chinook. The aircraft are being modified at the Gosport Fleetlands facility operated by Vector Aerospace.
“The first of the modified Julius Chinook helicopters is expected to be available to commanders before the end of 2011,” said David Pitchforth, managing director of Boeing UK Rotorcraft Support. “Vector Aerospace is delighted to be associated with this significant milestone. It is a testimony to the skill and dedication of our teams in Fleetlands and Almondbank, who have worked in a spirit of true partnership with our customer Boeing and the key equipment suppliers,” said Tim Rice, managing director, Vector Aerospace UK.
A wholly owned subsidiary of The Boeing Company and a business unit of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, Boeing Defence UK Ltd. currently has employees at 20 locations throughout the UK supporting Ministry of Defence and U.S. military programs.
Boeing UK Rotorcraft Support, working with Boeing Global Services & Support’s Rotorcraft Support business, is focused on providing increased capability to the United Kingdom’s military rotorcraft fleet. Supported by Boeing Defence UK, UK Rotorcraft Support has employees in Afghanistan, the UK, and the U.S., supporting Royal Air Force Chinooks and British Army Air Corps Apache fleets. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $34 billion business with 68,000 employees worldwide.