Boost for Boeing jobs in UK as RAF is awarded £400m to upgrade its fleet
- RAF gets £400m to upgrade fleet of C-17 planes and Chinook helicopters
- Boeing will carry out the work with Pratt & Whitney and US Air Force
Embattled aerospace giant Boeing has received a boost as the Government agrees to pour £400million into military aircraft, including planes used in the UK’s evacuation from Afghanistan.
The Royal Air Force will receive £400million to upgrade its fleet of C-17 Globemaster planes and Chinook helicopters, both developed by the US aerospace and defence specialist.
The spending, part of a four-year £24billion defence spree by Boris Johnson, will see £324million invested in improving the C-17 – eight vast planes capable of carrying two large helicopters.
The Royal Air Force will receive £400m to upgrade its fleet of C-17 Globemaster planes and Chinook helicopters
Its systems will be enhanced to allow longer range communications, making flying information easier for pilots to read, and its parachute capabilities will be improved.
The planes have been used by the UK for 20 years and are available to nine nations, including the US, India and Qatar, under the five and a half year contract.
Last month, the C-17 completed the biggest capacity flight in RAF history carrying 439 people from Kabul.
Boeing will carry out the manufacturing work with fellow American aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney and the US Air Force.
Separately, the UK’s fleet of 22 Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters will be enhanced with high-end protective systems in a £64million deal.
The contract with Boeing’s UK defence arm will see ‘blanking plates’ – which mask hot areas of the aircraft and redirect airflow to cool exhaust gases – fitted to defend them against heat seeking missiles.
The full Chinook support programme is worth about £750million, with Boeing working alongside contractors including Thales UK and Germany’s Schenker.
The awards mark a bright spot for Boeing, which has spent the past three years handling the fallout from crashes of its 737 Max passenger jet and the effect of the pandemic on its civil aerospace arm.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, head of the RAF, said the Chinook had proved its worth in the Falklands, Iraq, Afghanistan and even helping to stabilise the dam at Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire in 2019.
Asked why US contractors were awarded the work, he said: ‘There are no UK equivalents on the market but we are determined to make clear to US contractors there has to be a dividend for highly skilled jobs in the UK.’
The contracts will support hundreds of jobs, including at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
Anna Keeling, head of Boeing Defence UK, said: ‘The Chinook and C-17 have been central to our military transport and logistics for decades and we look forward to many more years of service for both.’