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Merlin MK1 Helicopter Achieves Full Operational Capability With Royal Navy
Havant, UK, November 7, 2007
In a milestone for Lockheed Martin UK – Integrated Systems, the Royal Navy has declared Full Operational Capability for its Merlin Mk 1 helicopter fleet.
“We have kept all the promises we made on this programme,” said Lockheed Martin UK - Integrated Systems group managing director Ron Christenson. “We promised we would create a new sovereign UK capability; we promised we would create the best anti-submarine warfare capability in the world and we promised we would deliver to schedule and cost on time and to budget. Today I’m proud to say we have delivered on all of these promises.”
The Merlin Mk 1 was placed on contract in 1991 and has been in-service with the Royal Navy since 1998. Since then it has grown into a true multi-mission helicopter and is increasingly relied on for troop and equipment movement, force protection, search and rescue, maritime and littoral surveillance and drug interdiction as well as anti-submarine warfare. When not embarked, Royal Navy Merlin's are based at RNAS Culdrose, Helston, Cornwall.
The programme was among the first in the UK to demand true complex systems integrations skills. Today it continues to safeguard more than 1400 UK jobs at companies across the country and has created a new pool of unique skills and talent identified in the Defence Industrial Strategy as critical to UK national security.
Under the Merlin Capability and Sustainment Programme (MCSP) Lockheed Martin UK is co-ordinating a series of enhancements to the avionics, mission system and the Human/Machine Interface which are predicted to deliver a cost saving of more than £500 million over more traditional obsolescence management techniques.
MCSP includes the implementation of open system architecture, improvements to the mission system processing capability, large area flat panel displays, and new capabilities in the Blue Kestrel Radar and Sonar system. The aircrew will benefit from a new Human Machine Interface, developed closely with Royal Navy operators, allowing them to take full advantage of the improved platform and mission system capabilities. When delivered, the aircraft will enter service with the Royal Navy as the Merlin HM Mk2.
The Merlin is also being examined for its potential in the Maritime Airborne Surveillance and Control (MASC) programme. MASC is the third component of the UK’s future carrier strike capability and will work with the future aircraft carrier (CVF) and the Joint Strike Fighter to provide airborne early warning and command and control capabilities.