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Merlin Mk4 upgrades progress

23rd November 2016 - 08:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


The first AW101 Merlin Mk4 upgraded for the Royal Navy by Leonardo-Finmeccanica has completed its maiden flight, the company announced on 21 November.

Leonardo is upgrading 25 Royal Navy Merlin Mk3/3A aircraft to Merlin Mk4/4A standard under the £330 million Merlin Life Sustainment Programme (MLSP) contract issued by the UK Ministry of Defence in January 2014.

Upgrades will prepare the Mk4/4A aircraft for ship operations, including a new automatic main rotor blade folding and tail fold. The aircraft are also fitted with the same cockpit as the Royal Navy’s Merlin Mk2 aircraft, giving the Merlin fleet a common cockpit featuring five 10” x 8” integrated display units, two touch screen units for controlling the aircraft’s systems and mission equipment, as well as two cursor control devices for cursor control of the tactical displays. 

The AW101 Merlin Mk4 will be delivered from 2017 for the Royal Navy’s Commando Helicopter Force. The Merlin Mk4 and Mk4A aircraft will be supported through the existing Integrated Merlin Operational Support (IMOS) contract, which has been in place since 2006 with Leonardo as prime contractor. Deliveries will be complete in 2020.

Royal Navy Capt Kieran O’Brien, the Defence Equipment & Support Merlin helicopter project team leader, said: ‘This is a great day and a most significant achievement in the MLSP. The conversion of the Mk3/3a Merlin to Mk4/4a has been a real success story so far against demanding timelines and this first flight is excellent news for our Royal Navy ‘Junglie’ customers.’ 

The Shephard News Team


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