Merlin Mk2

Merlin Mk2


Airborne Early Warning and Control

In 2017, Lockheed Martin was awarded a £269m contract to deliver the Royal Navy’s CROWSNEST Airborne Surveillance and Control (ASaC) programme.

As the prime contractor, Lockheed Martin is responsible for the overall design and development of CROWSNEST, which will provide a vital surveillance capability to support the Royal Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth Class carriers.

CROWSNEST uses a high power radar to provide long-range air, maritime and land tracking capabilities that will ensure early detection of potential threats and vital surveillance for the entire fleet.

This capability will be role fitted onto the Merlin Mk2 helicopters and deployed in support of various Royal Navy vessels including the fleet flagships HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

CROWSNEST incorporates an updated version of a Thales Searchwater radar and Cerberus Mission System which are deployed as role fit kits along with the Merlin Mk2 helicopters. This will allow the Royal Navy to adjust the configuration of the airframe depending on the mission. We are working with our partners Leonardo Helicopters to design the modifications required to fit CROWSNEST onto the airframes.

Merlin HM Mk2

The Merlin HM Mk2 helicopter is the Royal Navy’s airborne submarine hunter.

Lockheed Martin was the prime contractor responsible for upgrading 30 of the airframes for the Royal Navy, completing the work ahead of time and under budget. 

Merlin HM Mk2 crews are now able to operate the helicopter more efficiently and safely, improving the effectiveness of operations. We installed new critical multi-mission capabilities, made improvements to the way the helicopter processes data and provided large touch screen flat panel displays in the cockpits to improve situational awareness.

Since coming into service in 2014, Merlin HM Mk2s have been deployed from a number of platforms including HMS Ocean, HMS Illustrious, Type 45 destroyers, Type 23 frigates and RFA vessels. Although its primary role is Anti-Submarine Warfare, the Merlin Mk2 is a versatile airframe that is also used to undertake other tasks from troop transport to humanitarian missions across the globe.

The Merlin HM Mk2 will play a critical role in supporting the Royal Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth Class carriers by providing intelligence, surveillance and tracking. Combined with the CROWSNEST Airborne Early Warning and Control capability, the Merlin HM Mk2 significantly enhances the U.K.’s maritime operational capability.

Merlin HM Mk2, to this day, retains its reputation as the world’s most potent submarine hunting helicopter.

In addition to the Merlin Prime Contract, Lockheed Martin manages two important support contracts for the Merlin HM Mk2 Weapon System:

Integrated Merlin Operational Support

Under the Integrated Merlin Operational Support (IMOS) contract, awarded to Lockheed Martin by Leonardo Helicopters, provides exclusive support for the Merlin Mk2 Weapon System, for Merlin Avionics Systems, the Merlin Avionic Test System and the Merlin Training System at RNAS Culdrose.

•  optimises the world-beating Royal Navy Merlin Mk2 fleet’s operational serviceability and availability in support of front line operations.
•  reduces response times and improves system availability by having experts on-site.
•  saves the MoD and UK taxpayers around £1bn in support costs over the 25 year contract cycle.
•  provides a centralised team of experts at Leonardo Helicopters’ UK site in Yeovil.

IMOS brings together a wealth of experience from a formidable industry alliance: Leonardo Helicopters and Lockheed Martin.

Merlin Training System

The Merlin Training System (MTS) or 'Merlin University' is a state-of-the-art, comprehensive training facility designed to train air and maintenance crews in the operation and support of the Merlin Weapons System.

Based at RNAS Culdrose, the purpose built Merlin Training Facility (MTF) contains a variety of media used for the training of Merlin Mk2 aircrew and maintainers.

  • Weapon System Trainer - Offers weapon loading, landing gear flotation system maintenance and role fit training.
  • Mechanical System Trainer - Weighing in at eight tons, offers first-line corrective and preventive maintenance, fault diagnosis and Aircrew familiarisation.
  • Engine Part Task Trainer - Allows second-line maintenance and fault diagnosis training to be carried out at a modular level.
  • CCU/TSD/Part Task Trainer - The Common Control Unit / Tactical Situation Display / Part Task Trainer offers individual systems training for all the Merlin subsystems.
  • Computer Based Training - Sequenced CBT lessons, would normally be used by students as an introduction to Merlin, followed by self-paced theory modules, but can be used subsequently to reinforce any of the practical training elements.
  • Air Crew Trainers - These consist of a Cockpit Dynamic Simulator, a Cockpit Procedures Trainer, and three Rear-Crew Trainers.