GKN-Westland, March 27, 2000 - Yeovil, UK - Deliveries of the Royal Navy's newest aircraft have reached the halfway mark with the delivery of the 22nd (RN22) production model of the EH101 Merlin Anti-submarine Warfare (ASW) helicopter.
RN22 was handed over to the Defence Procurement Agency (DPA) by Merlin Prime Contractor and Systems Integrator, Lockheed Martin, in a ceremony at GKN Westland Helicopter's Yeovil site.
In front of an audience that included many GKN Wesland employees who work on the Merlin production line, John Howarth (Deputy IPT Leader at the Defence Procurement Agency) , took delivery of RN22 from Paul Beggs (Commercial Director for Lockheed Martin). John Howarth commented "the Merlin project team are delighted with the immense potential of this aircraft. With customer operating experience rising sharply we can confidently predict the successful completion of the full introduction into service of this technologically unsurpassed and highly innovative aircraft. A vital addition to the Royal Navy, Merlin is all set to take a leading role in the Maritime Defence capability of this country."
The latest aircraft to be delivered will be one of several assigned to 824 Squadron, based at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, Cornwall. The squadron, which will be commissioned on 2 June 2000, will be responsible for all aspects of aircrew and maintainer training.
As part of the ongoing Merlin Test Programme, three Merlin aircraft are currently undergoing a series of trials at the Atlantic Underwater Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) on Andros Island in the Bahamas. The AUTEC Tests will include further qualification of the aircraft's revolutionary Active Dipping Sonar (ADS).
In similar tests last year, the Merlin was so successful in localising the target submarine and prosecuting its simulated attacks that the submarine commander was heard to comment that he was glad that the Merlin will be on the same side when it enters into full service!
Other production aircraft are currently embarked in the aviation training ship Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Argus conducting Ship Helicopter Operational Limit (SHOL) trials. The trials are being augmented by personnel and aircraft from 700M Squadron, the Intensive Flying Trials Unit, based at RNAS Culdrose,
A total of 44 Merlin Weapons Systems have been ordered by MoD for the Royal Navy: The aircraft is due to enter Front-line service in 2001. Lockheed Martin was awarded the £2B Merlin programme in 1991.
The Royal Navy Merlin is a variant of the EH101 helicopter, designed, developed and built by GKN Westland Helicopters of the UK and Agusta of Italy. The EH101 was designed from the outset to operate in maritime, military utility and civil roles and is the only new technology medium-lift helicopter in production today. Orders for 98 aircraft have been placed to date by the British Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, the Italian Navy, the Canadian Armed Forces and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police.
The Royal Navy's Merlin helicopter entered service on 1 Dec 1998 with the formation of the Intensive Flying Trials Unit (IFTU) 700M Squadron at RNAS Culdrose. Merlin HM Mk1, the maritime multi-mission variant of the EH101, features a series of state-of-the-art mission systems, including radar, active dipping sonar, data link and electronic surveillance measures, which enable it to carry out its anti-submarine warfare/anti-surface warfare role. The highly versatile system can fulfil many secondary missions, including search and rescue, casualty evacuation, troop transportation and vertical replenishment.
A leader in Prime Contracting and Systems Integration, Lockheed Martin UK, combines all of Lockheed Martin's defence and commercial business in the United Kingdom into a single UK-registered company. Lockheed Martin UK employs approximately 1,000 employees at facilities in London, Portsmouth, Havant, Southampton, Yeovil, Swindon and Cornwall and is a unit of Lockheed Martin Corporation. Lockheed Martin is a global enterprise principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture and integration of advanced-technology systems, products and services. The Corporation's core businesses are systems integration, space, aeronautics, and technology services.