Few will forget Friday, March 30, 2007 - MOD to get 14 more 'copters. 8 refurbed turkeys and 6 on the borrer from the Prince of Denmark
Few will forget how military mastermind Des Brown announcedthat at last the 8 Chinook MK.3's that have been stuck in a warehouse since 2001 will be off to Iraq / Afghanistan to help out the brave lads dodging the bullets, and those who didn't dodge them a speedy trip to a field hospital (Average time 8 hours due to a shortage of helicopters at present).
Well that was then ...more precisely 11 months ago.Action at last !!!
Well up to a point Lord Copper... because Qinetiq announced an agreement only yesterday that they will contract with Boeing to assist in the upgrade of the 8 Chinook Mark 3 helicopters. Upgrade is not really the correct term because they will actually be , "reverted to a similar standard to the conventionally instrumented Mk 2/2A. " ...which they were supposed to replace they call this "reversion modification ".
This £11m contract will see Qinetiq take on a large portion of the contract (Total upgrade cost will be £90.1m of which £62m is the contract with Boeing) the MoD awarded to Boeing in December 2007. (So plans are fairly roaring along then !!!)
The new equipment from Boeing will allow the aircraft to fly in all types of weather conditions at any time of the day in any geographic region. Qinetiq will install the equipment and conduct flight trials with the hope of having the first helicopters in service by 2009.
In total, the MoD will have spent over £90m on upgrades for the eight helicopters since 1998, even though none of them have ever been used in operations.
Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Edward Leigh MP, has in the past described the purchase of the Chinooks as “one of the most incompetent procurements of all time."
For those who savour these private moments in those hidden away committees the following exchange is worthy of mention … Select Committee on Public Accounts Minutes of Evidence 25 OCTOBER 2004 - i.e 4 years ago....
Q133 Chairman: Thank you very much. But the fact remains, Air Vice Marshal, that for safety reasons you cannot fly this helicopter when it is cloudy; is that correct?
Air Vice Marshal Luker: That is also correct.
The major failures in procurement included ... we are told
1. Important equipment such as weather radar could not fit in the cockpit .
2. Software for flight systems was unable to meet certain standards
3. The aircraft was not capable of operating in desert conditions.
4. The aircraft have limited flight displays.
5. The aircraft have no safeguards against sand in the engine
6. The aircraft have been reduced to being used for flight trials on clear days at low altitudes.
The contract with Boeing and Qinetiq will finally see the Chinooks receive the necessary upgrades. MoD officials have hinted that they would be used for special forces operations.
... if we have any left by then.