Royal Navy - Naval Aviation - EH101 Merlin HM Mk1 Helicopter - n5a5 - Armed Forces


Royal Navy Merlin HM1 Mk1

Merlin was ordered in the early 1990s in a contract worth £1.5 billion and the first of 44 production aircraft appeared in 1996 and Merlin was accepted into service in 1999.

The Royal Navy currently operates 21 x aircraft (with four in reserve) in the anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare role in 4 x Squadrons (814, 820, 824 and 829 Sqns). All are based at RNAS Culdrose. When embarked the aircraft can operate from almost any capable flight deck.

The aircraft has a state-of-the-art mission system, which processes data from an extensive array of on-board sensors, giving Merlin an independent capability to search for, locate and attack submarine targets. It is this autonomous capability which makes Merlin almost unique among Anti Submarine Warfare helicopters.

Merlin’s operational debut came during operations in the Northern Gulf and Southern Iraq during 2003. The planned out of service date for the Merlin Mk 1 is 2029.

A 2010 contract confirmed the award of a £1.1 billion contract for an upgrade under the Merlin Sustainment Programme (MCSP). The MCSP is for technological enhancements to 30 aircraft with an option for a further eight. All upgraded Merlins should be returned to service by the end of 2013.

Another 20 x Merlin Mk 3 medium support helicopters will be transferred from the RAF to the Commando Helicopter Force. This transfer should be complete by the end of 2015.


Merlin HM Mk1 Specifications
Service Ceiling 4,572m
Range 550nm (1,019km)
Top Speed 167knots
Sensors GEC-Marconi Blue Kestrel 5000 radar
Thomson Marconi Flash AQS 960 dipping sonar
GEC-Marconi sonobuoy acoustic processor AQS-903 Racal Orange Reaper ESM
Weapons ASW 4 x Stingray torpedoes or Mk 11 Mod 3 depth bombs plus anti-ship missiles

Photo Copyright GKN Westland