Skip to comments.Heavy demand for Royal Navy Merlins
Posted on 01/14/2011 7:33:08 PM PST by sukhoi-30mki
Heavy demand for Royal Navy Merlins
January 14, 2011
The Royal Navy's Merlin helicopter force is busier than it has ever been, according to the fleet's commander.
'Whether its the anti-piracy work or the anti-narcotics mission, everyone wants a Merlin,' Commander Kevin Dodd, chief of the Fleet Air Arm's (FAAs) Merlin force, told Rotorhub.com.
Since the first FAA Merlin entered service in 1997, the fleet has been extremely busy on a wide-range of deployments not only on the back of the Royal Navy's Type 23 frigates but also its carriers and the Royal Fleet Auxiliaries.
'The aircraft's versatility makes it a highly demanded asset, we are much more than just an anti-submarine warfare aircraft, we are often referred to as the ops room in the sky,' Dodd said.
At home, the aircraft are used to sanitise the waters for the UK's fleet of Trident missile submarines, while further afield the force has deployed aircraft to the Middle East where the type has been used on maritime security operations in the Arabian Gulf and in particular the shallows and narrows of the Straits of Hormuz.
Indeed the mission there has helped to shape some of the criteria for the Merlin Capability Sustainment Programme. One particular improvement useful in that part of the world will be new transmit waveforms that will make the sonar more effective in shallower waters.
'The Merlin is very much the backbone of the UK's ASW capability and will remain so throughout the life of the Merlin Mk2,' explained Dodd
However, the introduction of the Merlin Mk2 presents a new challenge. Not only must the Merlin force introduce a new type, but it will also oversee a reduction in numbers from the current 38 Mk1s to 30 Mk2s.
On top of this, the retirement of the Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft means that the protection of UK waters from submarines falls squarely on the shoulders of the Merlin force. Furthermore, crew training is likely to suffer some disruption as the simulator facilities at Culdrose the home of the FAA Merlin fleet is modernised to Mk2 level.
Dodd and the Mk2 team have had to develop a plan which also allows maximum availability of the aircraft, particularly as the conversion plan could see as many as 10 aircraft undergoing conversion, albeit at different stages at any one time. Fortunately the eight aircraft that are not being converted will act as a buffer, allowing the force to continue operational flying until all the Mk2s are in service.
What will happen to the remaining eight Mk1s is not currently clear. AgustaWestland has mooted a plan to turn these aircraft into airborne surveillance and control (ASaC) aircraft to replace the Sea King when it retires from service in 2016 under the Future Helicopter Strategy, but no decision has been made.
By Tony Osborne, Yeovil
Looks like the love child of an SH-60 and a CH-53.
Merlin: What are you doing? You’re slowing down, you’re slowing down!
Maverick: I’m bringing him in closer, Merlin.
Merlin: You’re gonna do what?
At first when I read the “Merlin” in the headline, I thought of the old Spitfires and the throbbing Merlin engine.
Somebody needs to make those again. I think we’re running out of old metal by now...
That love child's airframe was almost our next Presidential helicopter.
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