Britain will buy 14 Chinook helicopters from US aerospace giant Boeing in a deal worth $2bn (£1.4bn), it was reported today.
However, it has agreed to defer receipt of the aircraft for a number of years due to concerns over budgetary requirements.
A letter of acceptance from the UK’s embassy in Washington blamed the need to reduce spending on the Covid-19 pandemic.
The UK is “eager to proactively engage to understand and attempt to mitigate the price and schedule impacts of the three-year deferral while recognising there are many programmatic and industrial base factors which need to be considered”, the letter, which was seen by the Telegraph, read.
The sale would be a victory for Boeing, which has been forced to look overseas for new sales of its helicopter after the US Army cancelled an extensive upgrade programme.
It could help stave off fears that some of 2,000 jobs at the firm’s plant in Pennsylvania, where the Chinook is made, are at risk.
According to the UK’s defence command paper, which was released last month as part of the Integrated Review into the country’s military and strategic priorities, the UK’s forces are in the process of retiring its oldest Chinooks and replacing them with newer models.
An MoD spokesperson said: “Work is at an advanced stage to commence the procurement of a number of new Chinook helicopters to replace older airframes in the fleet.”
“The delivery schedule and exact costs for the new Chinook helicopters are to be confirmed, but it is expected delivery will be completed before the end of 2030.”
A Boeing spokesperson said: “Boeing has always had a strong relationship with the Royal Air Force, and we look forward to building on that partnership as the H-47 Chinook Extended Range procurement process continues.”