News Article

Arrival of Danish Merlin helicopters increases UK fleet

An Equipment and Logistics news article

29 Jun 07

Six brand new Merlin helicopters have been transferred from Denmark to the UK under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by both governments earlier this week.

Danish Merlins

Two of the new Merlin helicopters transferred from Denmark to the UK
[Picture: RAF]

The first of these helicopters arrived in the UK today, Friday 29 June 2007, at AugustaWestland in Yeovil to undertake modifications before being added to the current RAF fleet of 22 Merlin aircraft, all based at RAF Benson. They will be fully ready for operations in 2008.

Minister of State for Defence Equipment and Support, Lord Drayson, said:

"This deal is part of a series of measures by MOD to increase the number of battlefield helicopters available to support our troops in theatre and shows our commitment to providing them with the best equipment available.

"This MoU builds on the announcement made in March and we are now moving the project forward at speed. I am pleased that we have been able to work so effectively with one of our coalition allies to achieve this - I would like to thank the Danish Government for their cooperation."

In March the Secretary of State for Defence, Des Browne announced that over the next two years, fourteen additional helicopters will be made available for use on military operations. The Ministry of Defence decided to acquire six new Merlin helicopters, available within a year, and to convert eight existing Chinook Mark 3 helicopters to make them available for deployment in two years. The complete package will cost around £230m.


Danish Merlins in flight

The Danish aircraft will be fitted with a comprehensive defensive aids suite including a new missile counter measures system and the BOWMAN comms system
[Picture: RAF]

UK Merlin aircraft have been operating in desert environments such as Iraq since 2005 and have exceeded every expectation of performance, reliability and availability.

Based on the military utility version of the Anglo-Italian EH101, the Danish Merlins are designed to operate by day and night, in hot, high or freezing conditions. Powered by three Rolls Royce Turbomeca RTM322 engines, the Merlin can carry a crew of three to four and 24 fully-equipped troops for distances of over 1,000km and at a maximum speed of 167 knots (310km/h). Alternatively under slung loads up to 4.2 tonnes can be moved, or search and rescue or casualty evacuation roles can be undertaken.

Self-protection can be afforded with side door and ramp mounted 7.62 machine guns. Pilot workload is eased with automated flight control and aircraft management, integrated global positioning system and inertial navigation system, extensive communication systems and night vision goggle- compatible electronic instruments and displays. As part of the Augusta Westland modification programme, the Danish aircraft will be fitted with a comprehensive defensive aids suite including a new missile counter measures system and improved ground communications using the BOWMAN system.

The Ministry of Defence has entered into a contract with AgustaWestland to produce six new Merlin helicopters for Denmark as replacements for the six transferred.

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