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-   -   Whatever happened to the Chinook HC 3s? (https://www.pprune.org/military-aviation/109805-whatever-happened-chinook-hc-3s.html)

Jackonicko 22nd Nov 2003 07:56

Whatever happened to the Chinook HC 3s?
Last heard of being taken back for use by the US Army SOCOM, and thence to be replaced by new MH-47Ds.

Various snippets, all of which are just rumour:
Long delayed delivery due to problems/goalpost changing?
Severe corrosion/water damage while in storage in the USA?
Eventually delivered?
Failed MAR trials at Boscombe Down?
Delivered to Brize for transport back to the USA (except one GI airframe at Odiham and one airframe at Boscombe)?
Never sent back?
Now being scrapped?
Another procurement triumph?

Comments, anyone?

Pilot Pacifier 23rd Nov 2003 01:02

Sad but true...
They were auctioned last month on eBay. One careful owner, VVGC, (one with slight accident damage when it was off loaded from a ferry on import). FSH, dry miles only, garaged overnight. Logbook and service manuals supplied. Best offers…

Such a waste it beggars belief. What was that about ‘Smart Procurement?’

trailfinder 23rd Nov 2003 04:31

Certainly not smart nor a triumph.

Possibly the most expensive helicopters in the world..ever!

Jackonicko 24th Nov 2003 17:58

Originally expected to be delivered and in service by 1998.


(according to Hansard in May this year)

"Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of the Chinook HC3 helicopters ordered for the RAF (a) were delivered to the UK and (b) are flying in the UK. [108847]

Mr. Ingram: Of the eight Chinook Mk3 aircraft ordered for the RAF, seven were delivered to the United Kingdom during the period of July 2001 to May 2002. The remaining aircraft has been retained at Boeing Helicopters in Philadelphia, USA in support of a UK Chinook capability enhancement programme. Two of the Chinook Mk3s are flying in the UK as part of the Military Aircraft Release (MAR) Trials, another is currently being utilised at RAF Odiham for ground training. The remaining four in-country aircraft are awaiting the issue of MAR recommendations and a Release to Service."


"An approach was received from the United States last year about the possible purchase of the Chinook Mk3, with the United Kingdom in turn purchasing the MH47G. While informal discussions took place with the DoD, no formal approach has been received."

On 13 November, Norman Lamb asked:

"(1) what the total value of contracts in relation to the order for Chinook HC3 helicopters is; [137223]

(2) on what date is it intended that the Chinook HC3 helicopters ordered by the RAF will be delivered to a squadron to undertake their envisaged duties; [137222]

(3) pursuant to his answer of 12 May 2003, Official Report, column 37W, on Chinook helicopters, what reasons have been given to his Department by the US Department of Defense for its decision not to purchase the Chinook HC3 helicopters ordered by the RAF; whether the Chinook HC3 helicopters delivered to the United Kingdom have since been made airworthy; whether the Chinook HC3 helicopter retained by Boeing Helicopters at Philadelphia has been delivered to the United Kingdom; where the Chinook HC3 helicopters ordered for the RAF were stored prior to their shipment to the United Kingdom; what assessment was made of the conditions in which they were stored; what assessment was made of the condition of each of the helicopters following this storage; what his plans are for disposal of the fleet; what specific role the Chinook HC3 helicopter was intended to fulfil when the original order was placed with Boeing in October 1995; whether other helicopters have been evaluated for this role since then; and if he will make a statement. [137295]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 10 November 2003]: I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House."

Someone here must know the answers to these, and other, questions......

Tocsin 26th Nov 2003 01:42

"Mr. Ingram [holding answer 10 November 2003]: I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House."

Sometimes the most interesting questions are answered with this - it is bl00dy annoying! Can we force them to put the Library of the House online? (I can find Hansard and the Stationery Office, but not tLotH...)

Brian Dixon 26th Nov 2003 04:12

No we can't, but you can write to your MP to ask if they will send you a copy of a document placed in the Library.

Doesn't always mean you'll get it though!

This story seems to ring a bell somehow.

Jackonicko 26th Nov 2003 05:17

I can now add more unsubstantiated rumour:

......Delivered to Brize for transport back to the USA (except one GI airframe at Odiham and one airframe at Boscombe)?
Rejected by the US Army as being unfit for use and unsuitable for economic conversion?
Never sent back?
Now being scrapped?

This is a scandal, if true.

But can anyone give an opinion on whether or not it is?

Archimedes 26th Nov 2003 20:55


You could also try David Davis, who has palced three questions about the Chinook 3s in the last ten days - all receving answers which of the 'I will write to the Rt Hon gentleman' type.

To the cynic, this proliferation of 'I will write...' answers suggests that there's something about the HC 3s that the govt doesn't want to appear in the publicly accessible official records...

Jackonicko 26th Nov 2003 21:31

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what process the Mark 3 Chinook helicopter has undergone to ascertain its readiness for release to operational service;
(2) what the latest estimate is of the cost of the Mark 3 Chinook helicopter procurement project;
(3) when the budget for the Chinook Mark 3 Procurement project was authorised; and what the total cost forecast was at contract stage;
(4) what the differences between the Mark 2 Chinook helicopter, the Chinook 47-H and the Mark 3 Chinook helicopter are;
(5) what the differences between the Mark 2 Chinook helicopter, the Chinook 47-H and the Mark 3 Chinook helicopter are;
(6) how the validation process of the FADEC system fitted to the Mark 3 Chinook helicopter differs from the validation process used to validate the FADEC system fitted to the Mark 2 and Mark 2a Chinook helicopter;
(7) how many lines of software cope were written in programming the FADEC system fitted to the Chinook Mark 3 helicopter;
(8) what operational requirement the Mark 3 Chinook helicopter was designed to fulfil when the original order was placed in October 1995;
(9) what cost-benefit analysis was conducted prior to initiating procurement of the Mark 3 Chinook helicopter; and what the results were;
(10) what software language was used in writing the software for the FADEC fitted to the Mark 3 Chinook helicopter; and what sub-contractors have been used to conduct this work;
(11) which company was contracted to fit the FADEC system into the Mark 3 Chinook helicopter;
(12) what differences there are between the FADEC system fitted to the Mark 3 Chinook and the MH47 Chinook helicopter.

Mr. Ingram: I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the release to service of the Mark 3 Chinook helicopters.

Mr. Ingram: I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

role is great 2nd Dec 2003 18:43

And his third question,20th Nov

David Davis: To ask the S of S for Defence how many Mk3 Chinooks the RAF have? What was their cost to the RAF was in the last year for which figures are available?, How many are active and what is the location of those which are (a) active and (b) inactive.
No prize here for quessing the answer
" I will write to............................."

Jackonicko 2nd Dec 2003 21:34

I'll bet there's a Pruner who could answer the how many and where questions before Mr Davies gets his letter.....

scroggs 5th Dec 2003 00:00

Perhaps someone who may be a constituent of Mr David Davis could write him and ask for a copy of the SoSfD's letter?

sprucemoose 5th Dec 2003 18:35

Hi Jacko - perhaps you should read the Daily Express story on the project today, as no-one seems to be biting. I haven't seen it, but it must be true!

Woff1965 5th Dec 2003 21:52

What does the Express story say? I can't bring myself to pick it up personally so a short precis would be useful.

(I checked their website and they have nothing on this story.)

sprucemoose 5th Dec 2003 23:17

Just spoken to a vile Express reader who tells me the basis is as follows:

UK likely to scrap Mk 3s without ever using them and pull any useful kit out for the Mk 2s. However, it could also choose to upgrade them at taxpayers expense...scandal...bah... Boeing says the aircraft were delivered to spec...scandal...bah

The headline tells you all you need know really: 'Copters bungle grounds the SAS'. Without any comment from the mysterious 'SAS sources', of course. Or mentioning that the aircraft actually belong to the RAF, not the SAS. Or that they are really grounded (they could always use other aircraft, I guess).

From a journo - don't believe half of the c4ap you read!

Ian Corrigible 17th Feb 2004 04:44

In-depth article on this story in this week's Defense News, which concludes "With the U.S. contractor and its suppliers absolved of any blame, suspicions are growing that the British specifications for the helicopters were faulty."



DummyRun 17th Feb 2004 06:47

smart procurement
Always going to be a winner-lets buy some probe equipped helos and scrap the C-130 tanker at the same time; mind you those guys on 1*1 Sqn can do anything, can't you???

NURSE 17th Feb 2004 07:41

Yet another glorious chapter in British defence procurment:rolleyes:

Jackonicko 21st May 2004 00:26

"The purchase of the Chinook HC.Mk 3 has been described by Edward Leigh, chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee as “one of the most incompetent procurements of all time”, while the NAO contented itself with describing the procurement as ‘flawed’.

In July 1995, the MoD decided that eight of the 14 Chinook HC.Mk 2 helicopters then on order should be delivered to an enhanced (HC.Mk 3) standard, to meet the emerging requirement for a dedicated Special Forces support helicopter. When the original contract was placed in 1995, it was recognised that neither the HC.Mk 2 nor HC.Mk 3 programmes would deliver aircraft to the full requirement but that this would be met by retrofitting the necessary systems later. Of the 100 "essential elements" outlined in the requirement, the contract delivered 55. Most of the 45 elements not delivered, could not be included owing to immature technology, but the NAO was unable to discover an audit trail to explain why these remaining elements have never been contracted for.

The new aircraft was to have improved range and navigation capability, and was to be fitted with night vision sensors and a new radar. Instead of simply buying MH-47Es or a similar glass-cockpit Chinook variant ‘off-the-shelf’ (an option that was considered to be unaffordable within the funding available for the HC.Mk 3 programme) the MoD opted for a bastardised hybrid solution, incorporating elements of the existing analogue cockpit with new digital systems and displays, with a new weather radar in a reconfigured nose radome, with provision for a refuelling probe, and with the increased size fuel tanks associated with the CH-47SD and MH-47E

The eight aircraft were to cost £259 million and the forecast In-Service Date (defined as delivery of the first six aircraft)was set at November 1998. An avionics upgrade programme for the aircraft was put to contract in 1997 but unfortunately, it soon became evident that the displays for the weather radar and other systems would not fit inside the existing cockpit. There are persistant reports that the aircraft were stored (inadequately) while the final avionics fit was being decided and designed, and that the aircraft suffered corrosion damage during this period.

In March 1998, the In-Service Date was redefined to allow for some programme slippage and for the Military Aircraft Release work that would be required following delivery . The new ISD was set for January 2002.

Seven of the eight aircraft were ‘delivered to specification’ by the contractor between July 2001 and May 2002, although one was reportedly damaged when it was unloaded at Southampton docks. None have so far been accepted into service, however, and there have been reports that the aircraft actually failed its Military Aircraft Release trials.

Unfortunately the Chinook HC.Mk 3's unique, hybrid digital/analogue cockpit is reliant on software. However, the contract did not specify that software documentation and code for avionics systems should be analysed in accordance with United Kingdom Defence standards in order to demonstrate software integrity. This was because it was (erroneously) assumed that since the systems and displays in the HC.Mk 3 cockpit were based upon those fitted to the Royal Netherlands Air Force's advanced CH-47D Chinooks, there could be a ‘read-across’ on the basis of similarity with the Dutch avionics, allowing an adequate safety case to be constructed. Unfortunately, the HC.Mk 3 hybrid cockpit had a unique configuration and this assumption proved unfounded. As a result it has not been possible to demonstrate that the helicopter's flight instruments meet the required United Kingdom Defence standards.

Although one of the main contractors for the avionics system indicated that it would allow access to some software data the process of proving that the software meets UK standards is time-consuming and extremely expensive. Moreover, because the legacy software in the hybrid cockpit is not amenable to the techniques required to confirm the robustness of new software design there is no guarantee of a successful outcome. Consequently, the Chinook HC.Mk 3 is currently restricted to day/night flying above 500 feet, clear of cloud, and in circumstances that ensure that the pilot can fly the aircraft solely using external reference points and without relying on the flight displays. These restrictions mean that the helicopters cannot be used except for the most limited flight trials, and may mean that the aircraft will have to be ‘de-modified’, stripped of their advanced systems and brought back to HC.Mk 2/2A standards before they can be used operationally, unless they are simply and quietly scrapped.

To bring the helicopters up to broadly the same standard as the existing Chinook fleet will require about£127 million, over and above the £259 million originally estimated, and the helicopters could then enter service in mid-2007 - nine years later than the original In-Service Date, and five years after the revised, ‘slipped’ date.

Problems have effectively kept the aircraft grounded (except for two aircraft used for trials) until today. There were reports that the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) would return all eight Chinook HC.Mk 3s to the US government for upgrade and use by US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) in the ‘war against terror’, in order to boost the number of MH-47E Chinooks available to US special forces. Under the rumoured deal, the HC.Mk 3s would later be replaced by new MH-47Gs. In the House of Commons, Adam Ingram confirmed that “An approach was received from the United States last year about the possible purchase of the Chinook Mk 3, with the United Kingdom in turn purchasing the MH-47G.” but he added that “While informal discussions took place with the DoD, no formal approach has been received.” Rumours suggested that a US team inspected the aircraft and politely declined them!

As far as can be ascertained two aircraft are at Boscombe for trials, one is at an undisclosed location near Bristol, one is with Boeing Helicopters in Philadelphia (having never made it over to UK shores), being used in support of a UK Chinook capability enhancement programme and the remainder are in storage, being cannibalised for spares, or in use as GI airframes at RAF Odiham.

The Chinook HC.Mk 3 MAR flight trials have reportedly progressed despite the on-going contractual issues resulting from the MOD decision not to field the current aircraft into service, although the trials work is not intended to result in a release to service for the original planned configuration, but is instead focusing on those aspects likely to be common with the future, but as yet undecided, plans for the aircraft.

In recent months the HC.Mk 3s have mainly been used for clearance of the Allied Signal 714 engines, already fitted to the HC.Mk 3 but now being fitted to the HC.Mk 2 and 2A as a replacement for the Allied Signal 712. Much of the initial 714 engine and FADEC analysis was conducted on the Chinook HC 3 aircraft, one of which had already been instrumented as part of its MAR trials. These engine trials necessitated increasing the Chinook HC.Mk 3 clearance to 15,000 ft for high level engine shut downs and relights. Flight trials were reportedly successful, but issues with the integration of the engine with the HUMS and ADR of the HC.Mk 2/2A required some software changes before the new engine could be incorporated into the operational fleet.

It is believed that an unknown number of HC.Mk 2/2As may have been upgraded with some HC.Mk 3 features, including the enlarged fuselage side fuel tanks, probably under a UOR. Further details remain unknown.

The NAO comfortingly hinted that the HC.Mk 3 programme pre-dated the MoD’s introduction of its ‘Smart Acquisition’ initiative, with its tighter risk controls, and that today the programme would have been adequately de-risked prior to investment decisions being taken."

That's OK then. Could never happen again.....

BEagle 21st May 2004 06:41

Now that really is a case of Gross Negligence!

Jackonicko 21st May 2004 08:50

How can you be so unreasonable, BEags? It's just 'flawed'.....

Anyone got any further light to shed?

Art Field 21st May 2004 10:16

Don't you mean floored?. What a shambles.

MReyn24050 21st May 2004 10:45

Agreed a real shambles. One would have thought that the Project Directors and Managers would have made certain that the software documentation and code was to be analysed in accordance with UK Defence Standards after the lessons learnt with FADEC. No doubt they have now all retired and are sitting back enjoying their protected pensions.
Jackonicko, you asked if anyone has any further light to shed. One thought that does come to mind is they could become expensive garden sheds with a built in greenhouse, sorry "glass cockpit." Will we ever see any Smart Acquisition?

NURSE 22nd May 2004 13:14

No surprises then we wanted a comprimise aircraft because our civil service masters wanted to save money and we got an aircraft that doesn't work that we can't even resell.

sex it up 18th Jun 2004 10:35

The whole issue of the Mk3 being brought into service has been muddied by the comprehensive upgrade programme that has been embodied on the Mk2/2a. Around 20 UOR modifications have been embodied to most of the MK2/2a fleet giving a capability that is now well beyond that of the Mk3 in it's current form.

It is staggering that the Mk3 has taken so long to get released into service that we have been able to retrospectively design a modification to the existing fleet, embody, test, train and ultimately use in anger.

Many of the Mk3's have components that are compatible with the Mk2/2a and guess what, they have been robbed blind to service the Mk2 fleet.

Procurement 1 Fleet 0

frank320pilot 19th Jun 2004 22:51

Decision to be made soon - probably prior to summer recess.

Fg Off Max Stout 18th Mar 2005 11:50


Article on today's news - the worst defence procurement ever. The 8 HC3s which cost £259m are up for sale, but given the fact that BritMil couldn't make them viable, the chances are no other nation will want to touch them, so they may well be scrapped. Didn't do Hoon, et al, any harm though.

totalwar 18th Mar 2005 12:30

Not sure it would be Mr Hon who takes the blame. The blame has to rest with the IPTL. He is the guy who should hang his head in shame and resign.

engineer(retard) 18th Mar 2005 12:47

Does make a mockery of those that propose buying kit off the shelf from the US will solve all of our problems. An expensive way of learning a lesson. No excuses can be offered Def Stan 00-55 (software safety) was initially issued in 91.

FJ2ME 18th Mar 2005 13:03

Au contraire, monsieur Retard, surely. According to the posts above it seems that the main cause of the cock up was NOT buying it off the shelf and insisting on some 'cost-cutting' b@$tardisation. Gross negligence indeed, BEagle. Oh when will we learn...

On the plus side, good to see that we have been much more demanding about the Mk3 Release to Service than arguably with the Mk2, eh Mr.Dixon?

Kolibear 18th Mar 2005 14:22

Radio 4 this morning was saying that 'the aircraft couldn't fly in cloud because the altimeter didn't work'

Please tell me thats a vast over-simplification.

engineer(retard) 18th Mar 2005 15:09


I'm afraid I have to au contraire your au contraire

American safety standards are often an order of magnitude lower than ours, that is one of the reasons that why we cannot buy straight off the shelf (other than domestic industry interests). If you buy their kit and assess it against our safety critical standards it will often fail.

We have to build in additional redundancy and safety measures to integrate their weapons becasue they will accept a higher level of loss due to self-damage. Brimstone is a public example, there are others instances less public.

You cannot test software to death in the same way as you do hardware and so it is judged in a qualitative manner (documentation, assembly tools and other geeky bits). Hence, a MAR fail is almost a given because they do not use our methodology. A lot of effort has been put in to reading across US software standards (CMM I believe) to ours, AFAIK there is still no authoritative guidance on direct read across.

This reduces their procurement costs, but I assume that they can take afford to lose more kit than we can.

Brian Dixon 18th Mar 2005 16:33

I have to agree with you FJ2ME. The only consolation in this fiasco is that the MoD was reluctant to issue a Release to Service until it was fit to fly. I wonder if anyone will be found grossly negligent with regards procurement?

If only they had been this reluctant with the Mk2...........


"Justice has no expiry date" - John Cook

SmilingKnifed 18th Mar 2005 16:37


If Buff has responsibility for the department, then it is his head that should roll, as per recent precedents e.g. immigration, transport.

What's the betting? :rolleyes:

Safeware 18th Mar 2005 18:02

It's a bit of both - the idea, v popular at the time, was to go COTS as much as possible. Chinook IPT did - a load of 'Dutch' COTS that Boeing were putting together was picked for the Mk3, although overall the project was to meet UK requirements. That's requirements as in wish list as opposed to Requirements - part of the development cycle. Inherent in COTS is the difficulty in getting safety evidence for it.

Interestingly though, these issues were raised with the IPT when a supportability study was carried out in 1998. The effects on safety parallel this, but were not the object of the exercise. It was pointed out that because of the COTS nature of the magical glass cockpit, the software therein would not be able to be modified, and thus was limited in its use. The IPT were not very happy with the report!

engineer(retard) 18th Mar 2005 19:01

Boll@x! Different maybe, but that doesn't mean lower.

Jungly AEO

I have had to provide MAR recommendations for US weapons and safety critical systems fitted to our cabs, have you?

Safety cases are derived as a mathematical probability of an event occuring, this means numbers. If the numbers thay have to reach to be declared safe are different, one has to be higher than the other. Unfortunately, there are a lot of numbers to look at, the basic EF weapons safety case was 1500 pages of numbers.

Suggest you read Def Stan 00-56 and Mil Std 882. I suggest you look at ES(Air) BP 1201 that will give you the targets for your own aircraft.

Our processes for hardware assessment are similar to the US, the targets we have to reach are different. US processes for assessing software quality are different and as I mentioned earlier there is no read-across for safety critical systems. Hence had the Chinook been bought off the shelf it still would not have gained MAR, nor would Apache if bought direct off the US.

We add complexity by the addition or modification of systems to make them meet our standards, or we reduce the operating envelope.

Safeware 18th Mar 2005 19:28

retard - "Suggest you read Def Stan 00-56 and Mil Std 882. We set higher numerical targets than the US."

Actually, suggest you read 00-56, it doesn't set a target.

The target for UK Miltary Aircraft is laid down in JSP 553.


engineer(retard) 18th Mar 2005 19:29


I stand corrected, I was getting carried away doing this and putting sprog to bed, 00-56 and BP 1201 are the methods of assessment. I have also read these documents more times than I care to remember. Although in my day the target was in JSP 318B Vol 4, 553 I believe is recent.

Jungly AEO

In my posting I was referring to aircraft self damage. This is an area where we do diverge and this causes significant integration problems and costs.



fagin's goat 19th Mar 2005 05:44

Typical! Suddenly we have engineers coming out of the woodwork with excuses for this fiasco. There are no excuses - the a/c are a waste of tax-payers cash pure and simple. If we had not f***ed about with a fancy spec those machines would be doing a decent job of work for UK forces NOW. This must never happen again - no doubt those involved at various levels have received gongs and promotions. They should be 'outed' on this website. (Would be nice for Buff to take a little heat on the way............)

engineer(retard) 19th Mar 2005 08:59


I have not offered any excuses, just stated the rules that we have to work to. Engineers do not create the rules anymore than you create air traffic regulations.

The fancy rules are mandated by ADRP, MOD and QinetiQ have no flex with regard to intepretation of safety regulations when applied to critical systems.

You need a lot more clout than I ever had to change safety standards whilst in uniform, and now I am in industry these standards are contractually binding. If you want to buy kit off the shelf, MOD need to change the standards. Our standards are possibly the most stringent, and I have worked on other nations latest generation aircraft that have not been allowed to carry out trials in our airspace because they cannot meet our standards. If you cannot change the rules at least carry out procurement with your eyes open.

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