The Royal Navy’s Merlin helicopters are tasked with anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare as well as troop carrying, casualty evacuation and medium lift and search and rescue duties.
The Merlin helicopter programme
- The Royal Navy operates 30 Merlin Mk2 helicopters, based at RNAS Culdrose.
- Operates globally, deployed on Royal Navy Frigates, Destroyers and Support Craft and will in future fly from the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers.
- Currently contributing to maritime security worldwide, including anti-piracy and drug smuggling activities. Previously deployed to Sierra Leone on HMS Argus as part of the UK support to the UN Ebola virus containment activity.
- The DE&S Merlin Project Team, based mainly in Yeovil with staff at MOD Abbey Wood, RNAS Culdrose and RNAS Yeovilton, provides in-service support to all the UK’s Merlins.
- Operated by the Royal Navy.
- The DE&S team based is based mainly in Yeovil at RNAS Yeovilton.
- The Merlin Mk3 is currently in the process of being modified to the Mk4/Mk4a. See below.
- The Mk 3 is a medium support helicopter designed to operate in all-weathers day and night. It’s a multi-role helicopter used in both strategic and tactical operational roles, most recently to great effect in Iraq and Afghanistan Campaigns.
- Can transport more than 4 tonnes of freight ranging from bulky cargo carried internally or underslung including artillery, Land Rovers or light-strike vehicles.
- Merlin Life Sustainment Programme (MLSP) will upgrade 25 Merlin Mk3/3a to a Mk4/4a specification. Modifications include new cockpit avionics, and limited ship optimisation, including a folding main rotor head and folding tail to allow their use from ships for littoral manoeuvre.
- First aircraft due to be delivered to Royal Navy early 2018.
Merlin Project Team
- Provides in-service support to merlin helicopter fleet and is responsible for procurement and sustainability of Merlin fleet to its out of service date.
- Amalgamated with Sea King Project Team in Apr 17 and, in total, both elements comprise 187 military and civilian posts
- Based mainly at Leonardo Helicopters site in Yeovil, with staff also at Abbey Wood, RNAS Culdrose and RNAS Yeovilton