in Defence

Defence Minister welcomes first of new carrier-ready helicopter fleet

Posted 30 May 2018 · Add Comment

Defence Minister Guto Bebb last week announced the delivery of the first of a fleet of new helicopters designed for Royal Marine aircraft carrier operations.


Crown copyright

The helicopter, known as the Commando Merlin Mk4, has been upgraded to a faster and more powerful aircraft than its predecessor. It now sports a maritime grey coat, has a folding main rotor and tail, upgraded flight controls and a tactical computer. The modifications are designed to ensure it can now operate from sea, and it will take off from ships including the UK’s new 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth.

A total of 25 Commando Merlin aircraft will be delivered to the air wing of the Royal Marines - the Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) –- who will use them to deliver troops and supplies from sea to land.

Defence Minister Guto Bebb said: "This new version of the Merlin will provide an essential bridge between sea and land for our Marines operating from ships, including our brand-new aircraft carriers. This fleet will deliver troops and supplies to the centre of the action, be that a conflict zone or the site of a humanitarian disaster, as well as providing search and rescue cover. Flown from the Yeovil factory to now be homed here, this is another way defence is supporting the South West, where we spent over £5bn last year – more than any other region in the UK."


Crown copyright

The Commando Merlin Mk4 aircraft, an upgrade from the Merlin Mk3 standard, are being delivered through a £388 million contract between the MoD’s Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and Leonardo Helicopters, supporting 175 skilled jobs at Leonardo in Yeovil, and a further 500 across the UK supply chain.

Last year the MoD’s highest spend per person in the UK was in the South West, where £920 was spent for each member of the population – totalling around £5,079,000,000. Defence spending in the region also supported one in every 60 jobs there – the highest proportion of jobs support by MoD expenditure in the UK, totalling 33,500 jobs.

Geoff Munday, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters in the UK, said at the ceremony “The delivery of the first Commando Merlin marks the culmination of over four years of design, development and manufacturing effort by Leonardo here in the UK. The result is the world’s most advanced and capable amphibious support helicopter that can fly faster, further and carry much more than the now retired Commando Sea King, delivering a greatly enhanced capability to the Commando Helicopter Force.”

DE&S Director Helicopters Air Vice-Marshal Graham Russell said: "DE&S is proud to have delivered the first Merlin Mk4 to the Royal Navy. Today underscores that DE&S and their industrial partners are delivering. And delivering more with less, thanks to our effective change programme and fantastic staff.

"We look forward to all 25 aircraft being fully operational by 2023. DE&S will also ensure the Commando Merlin are supported with a full training and support solution, so they are always available to be deployed across the globe."

The delivery will allow air crews to familiarise themselves with the Commando Merlin before they enter service, expected in the summer. They have been acquired to replace the veteran Sea Kings.

When not deployed on operations the helicopters will be based at RNAS Yeovilton, the home of CHF since the unit was formed in 1997.

CHF, known as the ‘Junglies’, have served in a commando support role in theatres of operations including Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan.

It’s the ability to fold the tail section – which has been completely rebuilt for the Mk4 - and the rotor heads which assist flying from Royal Navy carriers in particular.

Colonel Lenny Brown RM, the Officer Commanding Commando Helicopter Force said: "Commando Helicopter Force provides aerial support to the Royal Marines, be they at sea, in an assault ship or in the sand and dust of Afghanistan.

"My air crews will soon begin training to fly the Commando Merlin from the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers, marking the start of a new era of Commando support operations."

The news was trailed by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson earlier today, at the RUSI Sea Power Conference in London. Whilst there, he also announced that all Type 23 frigates will be fitted with the Sea Ceptor air defence system – starting with HMS Argyll as she is deployed to the Asia-Pacific to visit ports across the region.

 

* required field

Post a comment

Other Stories
Advertisement
Latest News

Bombardierís Global 7500 reaching completion

Bombardier has announced that Global 7500 aircraft started arriving at the companyís Montreal facilities last month, where high-precision completion work is now being carried out.

Direct flights from DSA to Belfast take off

Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) saw the start of a new Flybe route direct to Belfast jetting off from today.

Gatwick launches Summer Festival

London Gatwick has launched its first ever airport-wide festival to celebrate the start of the British summer.

Cardiff Airport enjoys 15 months consecutive growth

The national airport for Wales is continuing on its positive journey of transformation and this week announced 15 months of consecutive passenger growth, with over 1.51 million flying from Cardiff.

Cobham launches new X-Band coaxial limiter

Cobham Advanced Electronic Solutions has announced the launch of the ACLM5022C110, a new 8 to 12 GHz X-band coaxial limiter, providing high performance in a compact package.

Sigma's New Product Introduction and R&D team set to drive innovation

Aerospace manufacturer Sigma Components is working in partnership with OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers on new technologies to drive innovation and environmental performance in the aerospace sector, via its New Product Introduction and

Air & Ground SK1704230718
See us at
FIL18 BT111017220718AdvancedEngin BT1406011118SMIFAVSBT151118SMI GMSCBT3005081118DVD18BT3105200918