Merlin helicopter2022-12-14T16:12:45+00:00

Project Description

Max Speed
Max altitude
Lift capacity

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.
Commando Merlin Mk4 Infographic

Commando Merlin Mk4

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

DE&S – the force behind the armed forces

“The DE&S team is proud to be supporting this versatile and highly-capable aircraft for the Royal Navy as it continues to defend the UK’s interests at home and overseas.”

Captain O’Brien – Royal Navy,

DE&S Merlin team leader

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