The UK’s Longest Serving Chinook Retires after Four Decades with the British Armed Forces
- Bravo November first arrived in the UK in 1982 and was the only Chinook to return from the Falkland Islands.
- Legendary helicopter will be preserved and on public display at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford in Shropshire.
- Four Distinguished Flying Crosses have been awarded to pilots of Bravo November.
- The UK announced in May 2021 it will modernise its Chinook fleet by purchasing 14 of the latest versions of the iconic heavy-lift helicopters.
ROYAL AIR FORCE MUSEUM, COSFORD, April 1, 2022 - Bravo November, the Boeing [NYSE: BA] Chinook flown by the Royal Air Force (RAF), has been officially retired after 40 years of service with the British armed forces.
The legendary helicopter made its final journey from RAF Odiham in Hampshire to the RAF Museum Cosford in Shropshire, where it will be preserved and go on public display for the first time to mark the Falklands Island 40th anniversary on April 2, 2022.
“We’re absolutely delighted to be able to add Bravo November to the RAF Museum’s collection, and have her on display at the start of the 40th anniversary commemorations of the Falklands Conflict,” said Dr Peter Johnston, RAF Museum Head of Collections. “Bravo November is an iconic aircraft, with a fascinating history in the Falklands and beyond, and the perfect acquisition for us. We’re thrilled that she will be going on display to the public alongside our other aircraft, to tell the story of the RAF and its impact on British and global history across more than 100 years.”
ZA718, or Bravo November (BN718) as it is more commonly known, is a twin-engine, tandem rotor, heavy-lift helicopter. It is one of the original 30 Chinook helicopters ordered by the Ministry of Defence in 1978 and delivered by Boeing to the RAF in 1982. Since then, it has played an unmatched and unique role in UK defence missions at home and abroad. Four of its pilots have been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), and it has been involved in every major conflict or humanitarian mission in the UK and overseas for the last 40 years.
The aircraft first came to prominence in April 1982, when it was nicknamed “The Survivor” as one of four Chinooks deployed to the Falkland Islands. Three helicopters were lost onboard the MV Atlantic Conveyor after it was hit by a missile. Bravo November was the only surviving aircraft, and continued to conduct missions and tasking in support of British armed forces.
Bravo November, along with the rest of the UK Chinook fleet, has been upgraded several times and undergone extensive modifications by the Boeing Defence UK team, which has kept the helicopter resilient and serving on the frontline over four decades. In May 2021, the MOD confirmed the purchase of 14 Block II Chinooks, ensuring that the UK’s fleet will be flying for decades to come. Deliveries are scheduled to start in 2026.
“It has been an honour for Boeing to work closely with the RAF to provide support and sustainment for Bravo November over the course of its distinguished service. The regular upgrades and modifications conducted throughout its operational lifetime have enabled its impressive enduring capability and reliability,” said Anna Keeling, vice president and managing director, Boeing Defence UK. “We are delighted that its legacy, and the associated stories of those who have flown and worked on the aircraft, will be preserved at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford.”
More than 450 people are employed across the UK to maintain, upgrade and modify the RAF’s fleet of 60 helicopters, providing an enduring platform and capability. Boeing colleagues are based in locations across Hampshire including Gosport and embedded alongside the military at RAF Odiham. Several UK-based Boeing suppliers, including Leonardo in Yeovil, Thales UK in Crawley and Standard Aero in Gosport and Almondbank, Scotland, supply the materials, skills and services.