In Nov 2009, the first RAF Merlin ZJ120 and ZJ130 were detached to Afghanistan as part of Operation Herrick to relieve the chronic shortage of tactical air lift.
Towards the end of 2009, after years of media criticism of inadequate numbers in the UK Helicopter forces for the jobs they were being asked to perform, it was announced that the Commando Sea Kings would be retired and be replaced by ex RAF Merlin, initially as is, and then later (c 2017) by conversions to a fully marinised model (ie no new builds). The larger Merlin ( to be known as HC.4 ) lift would result in a smaller fleet with fewer active crews, achieving the same result while saving money.
RAF ordered 22 EH.101 of the transport variant which entered service with 28 Squadron at RAF Benson in January 2001. Equipped with extended range fuel tanks differs from the Royal Navy version by having double-wheel main landing gear.
In 2007 six former Danish airframes were also received
|Years||Units||bold : Current base of the Unit|
|2007/14||78 Squadron||RAF Benson|
RAF Mount Pleasant
|2005/14||1419 Flt|| Camp Bastion|
Basrah International Airport
|2001/15||28 Squadron|| Camp Bastion|