The EH101 Merlin Mk 3 is
the newest RAF helicopter, the RAF having ordered 22 EH101 (Merlin)
support helicopters for £755m in March 1995.
Merlin is a direct
replacement for the Westland Wessex, and it operates alongside the
Puma and Chinook in the medium-lift role.
Its ability to carry troops, artillery pieces, light vehicles and
bulk loads, means that the aircraft is ideal for use with the UK
Army's 16 Air Assault Brigade. Deliveries took place between
The aircraft can carry a load of 24-28 troops with support weapons.
The maximum payload is 4,000 kg and Merlin has a maximum range of
1,000 km, which can be extended by external tanks or by air-to-air
refuelling. The Merlin Mk 3 has sophisticated defensive aids, and
the aircraft is designed to operate in extreme conditions with
corrosion-proofing for maritime operations. All weather, day/night
precision delivery is possible because of GPS navigation, a
forward-looking infra-red sensor and night vision goggle
compatibility. In the longer term, the aircraft could be fitted with
a nose turret fitted mounting a .50 calibre machine gun.
During March 2007 the UK MoD announced the acquisition of 6 x
additional Merlin Mk 3a from Denmark. These aircraft will be able to
support operations in Afghanistan from 2009.
RAF Merlin aircraft are due to be phased out of service in 2030.
EH101 MERLIN Mk 3 Specifications
||Up to 24
stretchers and a medical team
tonnes of cargo (2.5 tonnes as an underslung load)
||3 x Rolls
Royce/Turbomeca RTM 322 turboshafts
||15 x Merlin HC3
||14 x Merlin HC3
above aircraft will be under the control of the Joint Helicopter Command