Royal Navy upgrades Merlin helicopters
The RN’s Merlin helicopters have been upgraded by Leonardo Helicopters and are cleared to operate from RN aircraft carriers, amphibious assault ships and Type 23 frigates, the UK MoD announced on 2 December.
Main upgrades on the Merlin include a new folding main rotor head and folding trail which allows two of the aircraft to fit just one of the carrier’s aircraft lifts and an improved defensive aid suit. The latter includes a laser-guided weapons warning and locating system.
A total of 19 Mk3 and six Mk3A aircraft have been upgraded to Mk4/4A standard to ensure the Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) can provide air support to 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines and other British forces.
The 25 Merlins are now considered to be the world’s most advanced amphibious battlefield helicopters.
An associated synthetic training environment was delivered alongside the MK4/4A aircraft.
A synthetic trainer includes two new pilot simulators, a procedures trainer and a rear crew training device, employing augmented reality systems.
The updates were carried out under the single-sourced Merlin Life Sustainment Programme (MLSP) negotiated by the MoD’s Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) body.
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