The 40th anniversary of the Chinook is being celebrated this summer across the Royal Air Force. Over its years of service, the Chinook has made an immense contribution to nations at home and abroad.
Proven in battle and having operated in every major conflict since the Falklands War in 1982, the Chinook has seen action in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan. Capable of transporting up to 55 personnel or 10 tonnes of cargo, the aircraft currently serves in Mali supporting the French military operations, where they have passed a significant milestone – recording 3,000 hours of operational flight time.
As well as deploying overseas, the Chinook has supported local communities, delivering aid and fuel in the north, flood relief in Lincolnshire and making repairs to a dam, protecting communities in Whaley Bridge. Most recently, it was part of the Joint Helicopter Aviation Task Force which transported NHS paramedics, equipment and patients during peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Group Captain Nick Knight, Station Commander RAF Odiham, commented: "Since receiving the Chinook in 1980, the aircraft’s contribution to the RAF has been nothing short of profound. From first deployment to the Falklands to 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. Central to that history is the support the Chinook's personnel have received from the RAF Benevolent Fund – be that financial assistance or emotional support. I am privileged to fly this iconic aircraft and to also command the Chinook Force. As we celebrate the past 40 years, I look forward to seeing the Chinook play an equally important role as part of the next generation RAF, with the Fund standing by our side the whole way."
Air Vice-Marshal Chris Elliot, Controller at the RAF Benevolent Fund, also praised the aircraft: "For four decades, the Chinook has played an essential role assisting our people at home and abroad. We are proud to mark this momentous anniversary and our relationship with the Chinook Force and reflect on the members of the Chinook family who we have been proud to support with practical, emotional, or financial help over the years. Our union with the Force remains stronger than ever and we stand ready to continue that support, as we have done over the past 40 years, if help is needed."
Developed by Boeing, the Chinook is a key fixture for at least 20 defence forces around the world. Today the RAF fleet of comprises of 60 Chinooks, many based at RAF Odiham, the home of the Chinook Force. Destined to stay in service beyond 2040, the Chinook has made an immeasurable positive impact on the Service and looks set to do the same for many more years to come.