HALIFAX, N.S. - The Canadian military will be receiving 15 new Chinook helicopters under a $1.2-billion contract, the federal government announced Monday.

Under the deal, U.S. aircraft giant Boeing will build medium to heavy-lift CH-147 Chinooks, a model of helicopter the military says will better enable it to reach remote regions and respond to disasters at home and abroad.

"Today marks an announcement of yet one more step forward to ensuring that the Canadian Forces remain a first-class, modern and flexible force respected and protected in what they do," Defence Minister Peter MacKay told a news conference.

"We are determined to provide the equipment - the very best possible equipment - to our men and women in uniform, so that they can continue to do their jobs safely and effectively."

The federal government announced a plan to buy more Chinooks for the Forces in 2006.

The order was originally to be for 16 helicopters, but the Defence Department has faced rising costs since the initial proposal.

MacKay said the final order calls for one less helicopter because the choppers will have greater fuel capacity, allowing them to fly longer, and an upgraded electronic system.

"What we will be receiving with 15 aircraft is actually a more advanced aircraft," MacKay said.

He said the decision was made on the advice of the air force in conjunction with Industry Canada.

The project will also involve a 20-year, in-service support and maintenance contract valued at about $2.2 billion.

Delivery of the first Chinooks is expected between 2013 and 2014.