Merlin HM MK1 (formerly Merlin EH101) is an Anti-Submarine (ASW) variant of the EH101 helicopter. The first aircraft was delivered in December 1998, to begin the replacement of the ageing ASW Sea King (Mk6). The 44th and final aircraft was delivered in December 2002. Designed in Western Europe, through a project which began in 1979 with EH Industries (the company formed by Agusta of Italy and GKN Westland in the UK), it is the largest collaborative helicopter project in history. The Royal Navy operate the aircraft from four aircraft squadrons and single aircraft flights, with worldwide detachments from a range of ships including CVS, RFAs and Type 23 frigates. An eight aircraft training Squadron and full motion simulator is based at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall. The aircraft was effectively employed on force protection duties during the Gulf War. The aircraft has a state-of-the-art, integrated 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 unique among ASW helicopters. The aircraft and its mission system are managed by two computer systems, linked by dual data buses. The cockpit is designed for operation by a single pilot, with the auto-pilot allowing for hands-off flight for most of the mission. Normally flown by a crew of three - pilot, observer and aircrewman - Merlin is equipped with the Thales active "dunking" sonar which gives enhanced submarine detection ranges, and the GEC Marconi AQS 903A acoustic processor.
Years Manufactured: 1993 - 2016
Platform Type: Rotary Wing
Initial Maker: EH Industries
Final Maker: AugustaWestland