Published 19 February 2020.
Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) procures unique covers for RAF Chinooks to keep them in the best working order, regardless of deployment location
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Bespoke covers are keeping the UK’s Chinook helicopter fleet in the best possible condition to support our Armed Forces around the globe.
The versatile aircraft is deployed in a wide range of conditions, from deserts and jungles to inhospitable seas.
When they are inactive, the 60-strong fleet need looking after to ensure they are always ready for action, which is where Fine Group comes in.
The London-based firm is on contract to make and supply the MOD with 48 different protective covers and accessories for each helicopter.
The all-weather items for the 30m-long Chinook range from larger covers for the cockpit, transport hatches and engines, to smaller ones for the flare dispenser, heater inlet, escape hatches and internal electrical components.
“The aircraft must be able to operate in the most challenging weather conditions, from the Arctic Circle to the deserts of the Middle East. When these inclement weather conditions prevail, there is an increased need to use the covers and therefore they provide a pivotal role in protecting the aircraft and maintaining operational output”
Materials used for the covers ranging from 1m x 1m to 5m x 5m include textured nylon, Kevlar and aluminised polyurethane.
Mark Geoghegan, Defence Equipment & Support’s Chinook team leader, said: “The aircraft cover sets are unique to, and have been designed specifically for, the UK Chinook fleet. As such, it was necessary to undertake a bespoke procurement.
“The aircraft must be able to operate in the most challenging weather conditions, from the Arctic Circle to the deserts of the Middle East.
“When these inclement weather conditions prevail, there is an increased need to use the covers and therefore they provide a pivotal role in protecting the aircraft and maintaining operational output.”
The Chinook is the UK’s only military heavy-lift helicopter and can transport up to 55 troops or ten tonnes of supplies.
Chinooks were deployed to help with the Whaley Bridge Dam repair and flood defences in Yorkshire last year. They are also actively involved in supporting French forces countering insurgency in Mali.
Group Captain Nick Knight, Chinook Force Commander based at RAF Odiham, said: “The Chinook Force has been regularly deployed on operations throughout its 40-year history.
“These deployments have been to some extremely challenging and inhospitable environments. All-weather products provide invaluable protection for our helicopters and make a direct contribution to front-line output.”
The two-year contract – worth about £200,000 up to the summer of 2021 – will help sustain jobs at Fine Group’s manufacturing plant in Wembley, as well as supporting its supply chain in the North of England.
The company is also contracted to repair and maintain the protective covers and supply stowage bags.
Trevor Payne, Fine Group managing director, said: “The Fine Group has a long association with the British Armed Forces which started with our founder, Captain Henry Fine, in 1948.
“We are specialists in providing technical textile military products and are recognised within the UK and globally for our high-quality manufactured products. Therefore, it is important to us that we uphold those values.”