RAF News

Chinook arrival with Royal Air Force remembered

Image shows an RAF Chinook on the edge of a hill side

The arrival at RAF Odiham on 22nd November 1980 of the first Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter was remembered today.

This significant milestone of 40 years of RAF service is being recognised by the Stations and Squadrons that operate the iconic aircraft ahead of celebrations expected in May 2021.

 “For the majority of its time in Service, the Chinook has been part of the Joint Helicopter Command where its incredible capability has been in great demand, both at home and overseas. All those involved with Chinook operations, both past and present, should take great pride in what they have achieved. The Chinook will continue to be a familiar sight and sound in the years ahead and we all look forward to the next chapter in the Chinook’s illustrious history.”

Air Vice-Marshal Nigel Colman
Commander, Joint Helicopter Command

Since the Falklands War in 1982 the Chinook has been involved in every major conflict, seeing action in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan where it conducted the Medical Emergency Reaction Team role collecting injured personnel from the battlefield. It has also been supported numerous humanitarian missions including the Pakistan Earthquake, evacuation of British citizens from the Lebanon and the recent disaster relief in the Caribbean.

In addition to a presence in the Middle East, the RAF currently deploys the Chinook and its supporting personnel to Mali supporting the French Op BARKHANE.

“Since receiving the Chinook in 1980, its contribution to Defence has been profound. From its first deployment to the Falklands to its current operations in West Africa, the Chinook has continually delivered on operations. Offering a capability second to none, the Chinook emotes a sense of pride built on this long and illustrious history. I am privileged to fly this iconic aircraft and also command the Chinook Force - I look forward to seeing the Chinook play an equally important role as part of the next generation RAF.”

Group Captain Nick Knight
Station Commander, RAF Odiham

During its service the Chinook has been seen supporting communities all over the country, delivering aid and fuel to snowbound locations in the North of England, providing flood relief in Lincolnshire as well as protecting communities in Whaley Bridge. Over its 40 years of service the Chinook has made an immeasurable contribution to the Service and to the UK as a whole.

“It has been a privilege to help RAF Odiham look back on 40 proud years of Chinook operations. The overriding feature of this period of reflection has been the selfless dedication of the men and women who have served their country getting these magnificent helicopters into the air. Moreover, 40 years of history points to one main theme - support to the boots on the ground.  We are rightly proud of our history and excited about our future, but we remain focussed on the support to our soldiers both now and in the years to come.”

Wing Commander Matt Roberts
Officer Commanding 18(B) Squadron

Developed by Boeing more than 50 years ago the H-47 Chinook has been providing reliable, medium-to-heavy lift capability for 20 defence forces around the world. Today the RAF Fleet of 60 Chinooks supports more than 450 highly skilled jobs across the UK, with Boeing engineers operating alongside the RAF on the front-line fleet as well as at Gosport and MOD Boscombe Down providing depth maintenance and upgrade programs.

“For 40 years, the Chinook has played a vital role in the UK’s defence capability supporting our people at home and abroad. We are proud to mark this anniversary in our 80 year partnership with the UK,” said Anna Keeling, managing director of Boeing Defence UK. “The Chinook is a multi-role helicopter that transports troops, defence equipment and fuel, it is also key to disaster-relief operations at home and overseas and it plays a major role during times of national crisis.”