Germany orders £3bn fleet of Chinook choppers as Scholz looks to beef up military

Berlin announced it will purchase the heavy-lift choppers from Boeing to replace its ageing CH-53 fleet. German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said: “With this model we are strengthening our ability to cooperate in Europe.”

Ms Lambrecht did not provide details of the price tag during the announcement made in a speech at the Bundestag on Wednesday, June 1.

Under a past plan, however, the Bundeswehr was set to acquire 45 to 60 heavy-lift helicopters for up to £3.4billion (€4billion) to be delivered between 2023 and 2029.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, in a major policy shift for the country, pledged in February to sharply boost defence spending and inject £85.5billion (€100billion) into the Bundeswehr after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

Mr Scholz wants to bring the Bundeswehr’s weapons and equipment back up to scratch after decades of attrition after the end of the Cold War.

Most of the funds will be spent on air capabilities, according to a draft seen by media and defence sources.

German Chief of Defence Eberhard Zorn told reporters that a crucial argument for the Chinook was its global use.

More than 500 Chinooks are in use by the US Army and forces in Europe.

It means spare parts are readily available so the helicopters can be operated for a long time.


It relied heavily on the old CH-53 for its mission in Afghanistan.

The operation revealed the ageing helicopter’s shortcomings, with much maintenance work needed to keep it in the air.

Germany’s CH-53 had been flying since the 1970s.

This week also saw Berlin pledge to supply Ukraine with the IRIS-T air defence system.

It follows pleas from Kyiv and German opposition parties to step up heavy weapons deliveries to the war-torn country.

Mr Scholz said Germany had been “delivering continuously since the beginning of the war”.

He pointed to more than 15 million rounds of ammunition, 100,000 grenades and over 5,000 anti-tank mines sent to Ukraine since Russia invaded.

The German leader said: “Most recently, the government has decided that we will deliver the most modern air defence system that Germany has in the form of the IRIS-T.”

In response to critics in his speech to parliament, Mr Scholz said his government had responded to the Russian attack with a “massive change of policy in Germany” by opting to send heavy weapons into a war zone.

Kyiv’s requests for heavy weapons has intensified in recent weeks after Moscow turned its fiercest firepower on the country’s east after failing to take the capital.

Mr Scholz said talks were continuing with Germany’s partners on ways to further arm Ukraine against the Russian attack.

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