AgustaWestland, July 23, 2013 - AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is pleased to announce that the first five AW101 Merlin HM Mk 2 helicopters have been delivered to the Royal Navy's 824 Naval Air Squadron based at RNAS Culdrose in Southwest England.
A ceremony was held today at RNAS Culdrose to celebrate the formation of the Navy's first Merlin HM Mk.2 equipped squadron. The delivery of these aircraft, which have been upgraded as part of a £750M AgustaWestland and Lockheed Martin led contract, marks a significant programme milestone for industry, the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm and the UK Ministry of Defence.
Fitted with a state-of-the-art glass cockpit and improved aircrew mission console and avionics, the Merlin HM Mk 2 has advanced touch screen displays, and an improved ability to detect and track targets and share data with other aircraft and ships while airborne. These and equipment improvements will also enable the helicopters to carry out counter piracy and casualty evacuation roles.
Thirty Merlin Mk1 helicopters are being converted to Mk2s by AgustaWestland at its Yeovil facility, supported by prime contractor Lockheed Martin. Following the completion of trials the first helicopters are expected to be ready to deploy on operations by summer 2014. Delivery of all 30 Merlin HM Mk2s will be completed in 2015.
Ray Edwards, Managing Director, AgustaWestland, said “The success of this complex programme has been achieved by strong collaboration between industry, the Ministry of Defence and the end user. We are delighted this programme is on budget and on schedule to deliver a world class front line capability for the Royal Navy.”
Jeff Streznetcky, Vice President and Group Managing Director, Lockheed Martin UK Integrated Systems, said ‘The Merlin Capability Sustainment Programme (MCSP) represents a magnificent team effort led by Lockheed Martin and AgustaWestland, supported by our suppliers, to provide the Royal Navy with unrivalled capability to carry out its anti-submarine patrol and policing requirement.’
Commodore Andy Lison RN, responsible for the Merlin, Lynx and Sea King teams for the MOD’s Defence, Equipment and Support Organisation, said “I am delighted that we are now firmly in the delivery phase of the project. The Merlin Mk 2 is a truly exceptional aircraft and the programme to develop and build this aircraft has brought together the very best of the MOD and defence industry to future-proof this vital capability for Defence.”
Commander Ben Franklin RN, the Commanding Officer of The Merlin Helicopter Force said “I am extremely proud to be leading the Merlin Force during this period. The delivery of the first five aircraft to the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm is a real milestone of this successful programme which will provide vital support to the Navy as it fulfils its role in protecting UK interests across the Globe.”