UK Royal Navy takes delivery of first AW101 Commando Merlin Mk4A

Leonardo Royal Navy AW101 Merlin Mk4
The Commando Merlin Mk4As are converted from former-RAF Merlin HC2s and RN Mk3s. (Leonardo)

Leonardo Helicopters has delivered the first of 25 AW101 Commando Merlin Mk4/4A helicopters to the Royal Navy.

The aircraft are former RAF Merlin HC2s and RN Mk3s which have been fully marinised and equipped with other enhancements under the Merlin Life Sustainment Programme (MLSP). These enhancements include a folding tail boom and main rotor blades, strengthened undercarriage, a new EW self-protection suite, and upgraded avionics with large touchscreen displays. They will replace the Sea King HC4 ‘Junglies’ in service.

“The delivery of the first Commando Merlin marks the culmination of over four years of design, development and manufacturing effort by Leonardo here in the UK,” Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters in the UK, Geoff Munday, said at the May 25 rollout ceremony.

“The result is the world’s most advanced and capable amphibious support helicopter that can fly faster, further and carry much more than the now retired Commando Sea King, delivering a greatly enhanced capability to the Commando Helicopter Force.”

Also part of the upgrade will be new Commando Merlin synthetic training devices comprising two Flight Training Devices (FTDs), a Flight Navigation Procedures Trainer (FNPT) and a Rear Crew Trainer (RCT).