What Merlin Means To Me

What Merlin Means To Me

In celebration of the Merlin program reaching its 30th anniversary, employees past and present share their perspective of what Merlin means to them.

Clare Denton

Programme Administrator Merlin Delivery Programmes


Clare has provided secretarial and administrative support to the Merlin Delivery Programmes, from the days of IBM Federal Systems through Loral to Lockheed Martin. 

 "As a recent college-leaver, joining such a professional and skilled team was a very exciting and proud experience for me.  The opportunities of seeing Merlin ‘in the flesh’ have always been a great pleasure…  office landings, fly-bys, at air shows, in the hangars (Yeovil/Boscombe Down/on-board), or simply on holiday when Dad would look up and ask, “is that one of yours?”.  Dare I say it, the Merlin experience has been magical!“

William R. Widner

Group Managing Director 2008-2010

Teamwork was the key to Merlin’s success and longevity. Lockheed Martin, the Royal Navy, the MoD, and Industry partners all worked tirelessly together with a common definition of “Mission Success”.  The close community made the programme what it is.  Each of these four struggled at times and the others would step up and help. Without exception, it is the greatest privilege of my career to be a small part of this dedicated team.

Ben Van Den Broek

Merlin Mk2 Chief Engineer

van den broek

"I have been proud the be part of the Merlin Team for so many years. There have been plenty of challenges to overcome, but the variety of work, being part of a great team and opportunity to contribute to such a capable helicopter platform all make it extremely worthwhile."

Ben started as an Industrial Trainee in the Safety team with IBM Federal Systems in 1993, completing second and third placements with Loral in 1994 & 1995 before joining Lockheed Martin full time 1996 as part of the Air Vehicle Engineering team. When asked about his memories of his time working on the Merlin Mk1 project, he said ”I remember frequent trips to Yeovil, long hours testing on the rigs, and reviews with Agusta in Cascina Costa, but again being part of a great team and contributing to a world class capability. The significant milestones like CDR and AUTEC Trials stick with me, I think the team as a whole were great at celebrating those successes and everything they meant to the programme."

Colin Eldridge

Test Architect


The opportunity to perform challenging and interesting technical work within a 'can do’ team that delivered one of the few UK developed platforms and I take pride in my part in its successful and enduring service.

Colin was responsible for the Radar and ESM and subsequently managed the team responsible for performance of the Merlin system from IBM Federal Systems through Loral to Lockheed Martin from 1993. 

When asked about his memories of his time working on the Merlin Mk1 project, he said ”Initially we were mostly staffed by US Assignees, and so it was like flying across the Atlantic coming into work every day! There was a great sense of common purpose and I learnt a lot from some very experienced people about engineering and delivery across a whole platform, with the need to manage the many inter-dependencies. ‘Schedule was king’ and every day counted, so we packed a lot of work into a short time but also had some fun along the way and celebrated our successes."

Galen I. Ho

Vice President and Chief Executive Officer, 1990-1999


EH-101 Merlin - a priceless legacy and a UK MoD partnership

As Vice President and General Manager of IBM ASIC-UK, Galen was responsible for the Merlin Programme and US Maritime systems as part of IBM Federal Systems, thru Loral and then Lockheed Martin.  His key memories include a tough 15-month pursuit of the MoD in conjunction with Harris Belman and his marketing team, highly competitive cost evaluations and finally selection/award against a UK-based competitor.  When asked about his memories of working on the Merlin Mk1 project, he said “We promised the UK Defence Minister and his team that we would produce a world-class ASW Helo System, outfitted with a UK Avionics kit and software.  We came with approximately 150 US nationals and hired another 150 UK nationals with the support of the IBM-UK CEO, Sir Anthony Cleaver.  We moved into our North Harbor offices in June 1999 and the rest is history.”

Lucy Sutton



Teamwork – right from my very first day, there was always a great emphasis on teamwork.  Merlin has always consisted of a great group of people all working together to deliver what the customer needs.

Lucy started as a junior secretary with IBM ASIC, through to Loral and then Lockheed Martin.  When asked about her memories of working on the Merlin Mk1 project, she said “I feel privileged to have had the opportunity of a very unique working experience with Merlin. When I first joined, 90% of the team were US assignees – it was a complete culture shock to me, one that I soon learned to love.  I’ve been fortunate to have worked in most departments and with lots of customers and suppliers.  Spending 3 months as a Trial Teams Secretary in the Bahamas back in 2000 was definitely a highlight.  I have made long-term friendships from people who started off as colleagues and 21 years ago I met my husband through a colleague.  I’ve a lot to thank Merlin for!”

Phil Shaw

Business Development Director, Lockheed Martin Rotary & Mission Systems


Between 1998 and 2001, Phil Shaw was the first Commanding Officer of the 700M Intensive Flying Trials Unit, responsible for the introduction into Royal Naval service of the helicopter and then he served as Commander Merlin and first Commanding Officer of 824 Naval Air Squadron which provided training for conversions and ab initio crews.

When asked about his memories of introducing Merlin Mk1 into service, he said “You know I look back on those days as a highlight of my career in the Royal Navy. We were all so privileged to be at the forefront of introducing cutting edge technology into the fleet air arm, and while it didn’t come without its frustrations which is common when introducing any new equipment, the Merlin was a giant leap forward in capability. I was struck by the safety of the aircraft that three engines brings, the smooth ride which reduces crew fatigue and the level of automation and integration which substantially reduced crew workload … young aircrew today would probably look at us and chuckle when they saw us on older aircraft navigating or searching for ships and submarines by wielding wax pencils and plastic sheets liberally soaked in hydraulic or warm gearbox oil but Merlin represented a huge improvement over what we were all used to at the time. Also the advances that modern sensors and avionics such as Flash and data link provided meant that Merlin was a significant force multiplier for the Royal Navy across multiple environments. I felt personally very honoured to be working alongside the best of the best in the fleet air arm on the Merlin programme and it has been wonderful to see so many go on to bigger and better things from that experience. Merlin introduced me also to Lockheed Martin and I remember fondly the team that I worked with in Portsmouth and Owego as we worked together as a team to bring this great capability into being and it’s wonderful to see some of those people are still supporting the programme and that the relationship between MoD, Royal Navy and industry has endured for such a long time. It is a testament to the quality of people on both sides of the Atlantic that have been supporting this programme so well that Lockheed Martin is still in prime position. What a wonderful day to see Merlin reach the 30 year mark and here’s wishing the programme teams in MoD, Royal Navy and industry all the best of success for the next 30 years.” 

John Howarth

Merlin Project Manager and Deputy IPT Leader, 1991-1995 & 2000-2006


Strength, Power, Teamwork, Success and the ability of people of different nations to work together to produce Excellence.

When asked about his memories of his time working on the Merlin Mk.1 project he said “It was a privilege and an honour to lead two superb different MOD teams and forge successful relationships with Lockheed Martin and all the other companies and countries involved in the development of the world’s finest multi-role helicopter.”

Nathan Colbern

Merlin Configuration Management, In Service Retro-fit/Production, Programme Management


"Merlin is in my blood – its hard not to be as a previous helicopter engineer and having spent the last 23 years working the programme from delivery of the initial Mk1s, to adding new capabilities such as Crowsnest and Multi-Statics. It has been and privilege and honour to be part of the Merlin team and family across so many areas, be it the Lockheed Martin teams, the Customer (DE&S and RN) as well as the multiple suppliers; (Leonardo, CAE, Thales, Ultra, Selex, L3 etc etc). Collectively we have delivered the foremost Multirole Maritime Helicopter to the Royal Navy. A huge achievement by so many over the years."

"During this time I have seen people grow, form lasting friendships, fall in love, and have families. This is so often over looked when the size of the programme is considered. I have so many lasting positive memories working Merlin, be they the people I have met and worked with, as well as the accomplishments achieved. My standout and lasting moments on the programme have been: Supporting the RN (700M) with operating the first deliveries of Merlin Mk1, seeing the first two Merlin Mk2s being delivered at RNAS Culdrose, delivering 11 Merlin Mk2s so they could all embark on HMS Illustrious (Exercise Deep Blue), and lastly seeing 5 Merlin ASW and 3 Merlin Mk 2s ASaC (Crowsnest embodied) arranged on the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth departing for CSG21." 

Peter M. Schultz

Group Managing Director, 1996-2001


Peter Schultz was the Merlin Proposal Manager 1990-91 and chaired the Merlin Design Review Unit from 1991-94. Peter travelled to the UK on international assignment in 1994 to join the company as Merlin Managing Director, later becoming Group Managing Director from 1996 to 2001. The Merlin Programme continued to report to Peter as Integrated Systems president 2001-2003.

When asked about his memories of his time working on the Merlin Mk1 project, he said, “The exceptional people I’m talking about is a formidable team – in the Ministry of Defence …in the Royal Navy… at Lockheed Martin…at AgustaWestland… and at all of our subsystem subcontractors – all working together with a common vision and ultimately achieving an unparalleled success. Our team at Lockheed Martin was made up of incredible men and women, each and every one of them had the strength of character, a positive attitude, and determination that simply would not be denied success. For me, Merlin was all about the people…exceptional people working together to achieve a common goal. The same is true for Merlin today."

Lee Dobson

Configuration & Data Management

"Having joined Lockheed Martin and being seconded immediately to the Merlin programme (the original Mk1 contract) I feel proud to have worked and supported its transition from Mk1 to Mk2 under the Capability Sustainment Programme (MCSP), taken it from Under Contractor Control (UCC) to Under Ministry Control (UMC), through to the current enhancement programme, CROWSNEST, as well as working on its sustainment programme, IMOS, throughout. It has been a pleasure to work on, and be associated with, the Merlin helicopter for a number of years, during which time I have built good relationships and friendships with both internal work colleagues, as well those working for our Vendors and Customer. Its transition has, and continues to be, a great journey."

Rachel Garvey



"What Merlin means to me is the people.  So many brilliant and dedicated people that I’ve been lucky enough to work with - a huge proportion of whom I not only class as great colleagues, but also good friends. Teamwork has always been at the core of the Merlin programme, and it’s been a real privilege to be a part of."

Rachel joined the company straight from college in July 1994.  “It was my first experience of office life. The Merlin programme was huge. It absolutely buzzed - a vibrant mix of American and British colleagues, all working towards a common goal. Coming from a Naval family, they were all thrilled and impressed that I was (a small) part of such an important programme. Over the course of my time with Lockheed Martin, I have been fortunate to work for, and with, some truly outstanding leaders, who have taken us through the various stages of the Merlin journey, each in their own unique way.  A personal highlight for me was meeting Marillyn Hewson when she visited Havant as President of LM Systems Integration-Owego. She was beyond inspiring.”