First Flight Of Merlin MK2 Helicopter In Yeovil Signifies Major Milestone

(Yeovil, UK, October 25, 2010). Lockheed Martin UK - Integrated Systems and strategic partner, AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, announced today that MCSP01, the first upgraded Royal Navy Merlin Mk2 helicopter has performed a successful maiden flight at the AgustaWestland facility in Yeovil. The 35 minute first flight went as planned and the initial flight test phase will focus on testing the new avionics, aircraft management system, cockpit displays, communications and navigation systems.

Rod Makoske, Lockheed Martin UK - Integrated Systems VP, said "The first flight of MCSP01 is evidence of the cooperative efforts of the Ministry of Defence and industry team, and marks the start of an intensive flight-test programme for the Merlin Capability Sustainment Programme (MCSP). Our continued teamwork will enable us to complete the on-time development of this world-class multi-mission helicopter for the Royal Navy."

Nick Whitney, AgustaWestland’s Senior VP UK Government Business, said “The first flight of Merlin Mk2 ahead of schedule is a great achievement that has been made possible by the strong teamwork between the industrial partners and the Ministry of Defence. AgustaWestland is proud to be playing a major role in delivering the Merlin Mk2 programme that will enable the Royal Navy to remain at the forefront of maritime helicopter capability.”

Under the Merlin Capability Sustainment Programme (MCSP) 30 Royal Navy Merlin Mk1 aircraft will undergo a series of sophisticated upgrades to resolve obsolescence issues in the current Mk1 variant and reduce through life costs. The MCSP will enhance current critical multi-mission capabilities by the insertion of an open system architecture, improvements to the mission system processing capability, a new Human Machine Interface incorporating large area touch screen flat panel displays, and improvements in the radar and sonar system.

Four trials aircraft will be dedicated to test and evaluation of the new aircraft, avionics and mission systems. The majority of flight testing will be performed at AgustaWestland’s Yeovil site through to late 2011 when the aircraft will transfer to QinetiQ, Boscombe Down to perform further mission system performance evaluation and Release to Service trials.

MCSP01 will perform its first flight with a functioning mission system in November 2010, marking another significant milestone for the MoD/Industry team. Aircraft conversion will be undertaken at AgustaWestland’s Yeovil facility with full rate conversion being established in early 2012. The Royal Navy’s Merlin Mk2 will enter service in 2013 and achieve Full Operational Capability in 2014.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 133,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s 2009 sales from continuing operations were $44.0 billion.

Note to editors:

Lockheed Martin UK was awarded the original Merlin Mk1 contract for 44 ASW/ASuW helicopters in 1991 with AgustaWestland acting as sub-prime.

Merlin Mk1 entered Service in 1998 and has been deployed on operations around the world with the Royal Navy.

Lockheed Martin UK was awarded the £750 million contract by the MoD to sustain the capability of the Royal Navy’s multi-mission Merlin Helicopter in 2006.

In 2006 AgustaWestland was awarded a 25 year Integrated Operational Support (IOS) contract to provide comprehensive support for the UK MoD’s Merlin helicopter fleet. Lockheed Martin UK is one of AgustaWestland’s strategic partners providing support and training services for the Royal Navy’s fleet of Merlin Mk1 helicopters.