UK — Royal Navy tests Merlin helicopters

A detach­ment of Roy­al Navy air­crew and engi­neers have spent a week thor­ough­ly test­ing the Mer­lin helicopter’s sen­sors and weapons to ensure that air­crew are ready for any oper­a­tional deploy­ment that they may be tasked with.

 Sting Ray Mod 1 anti-submarine torpedo
A Sting Ray Mod 1 anti-sub­ma­rine tor­pe­do is dropped from a Roy­al Navy Mer­lin heli­copter dur­ing capa­bil­i­ty tri­als near the Isle of Skye in Scot­land
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

The weapon and sen­sor tri­als were car­ried out at the British Under­wa­ter Test and Eval­u­a­tion Cen­tre sit­u­at­ed on Inner Raasay Sound near the Isle of Skye. 

The team of 20, led by Lieu­tenant Com­man­der Iain Mac­far­lane, make up the Mer­lin HM Mk1 Oper­a­tional Eval­u­a­tion Unit which is part of 824 Naval Air Squadron based at Roy­al Naval Air Sta­tion Cul­drose in Hel­ston, Cornwall. 

Dur­ing the week, sev­er­al tri­als were con­duct­ed by the air­crew using the Merlin’s potent suite of sen­sors and eight advanced Sting Ray Mod 1 tor­pe­does, which were fired in sim­u­lat­ed attacks. 

The air­crew and engi­neers of the Mer­lin Heli­copter Force are one of the main­stays of the UK’s anti-sub­ma­rine war­fare capa­bil­i­ty, and tri­als such as these ensure that they main­tain skills and tac­tics for now and in the future. 

Data from these tri­als will now be analysed by the Mar­itime War­fare Cen­tre who will then pro­vide the air­crew with the most up-to-date tac­ti­cal advice possible. 

One of the flight observers, Lieu­tenant Lau­ren Hul­ston, said: 

“Rig­or­ous­ly test­ing the Merlin’s sys­tems and weapons ensures that the crews are ready for what­ev­er oper­a­tional task­ing we may be giv­en. Tri­als like this are essen­tial for us to main­tain our readiness.” 

Mer­lin heli­copters are cur­rent­ly deployed across the globe in sup­port of Roy­al Navy oper­a­tions and ongo­ing com­mit­ments. The pri­ma­ry role of the Mer­lin heli­copter, the Roy­al Navy’s most mod­ern air­craft, is anti-sub­ma­rine war­fare; how­ev­er, due to its size, speed and proven tech­no­log­i­cal capa­bil­i­ty, this ver­sa­tile air­craft is also used in mar­itime secu­ri­ty operations. 

The heli­copter is large enough to car­ry Roy­al Marines for sniper oper­a­tions and board­ing via fast rop­ing, both of which are vital to counter the threat of pirates, and it is fit­ted with heavy duty machine guns and ther­mal imag­ing equipment. 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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